Grizzlies-Hornets Preview

The New Orleans Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies have two more

meetings this season, which may allow one team the chance to create

an edge in the Western Conference playoff race.

Only one game separates the Hornets and Grizzlies, who face off

in New Orleans on Friday night.

New Orleans (43-32) moved into a tie with Portland for sixth

place in the West after a 95-91 win against the Trail Blazers on

Wednesday. The Hornets also own the tiebreaker after the

victory.

However, the Grizzlies (42-33) are just one game back after

winning five of their last six, including a 110-91 victory over

Golden State on Wednesday.

“We just have to be focused as a unit beforehand,” Tony Allen

told the Grizzlies’ official website about Friday’s game.

“Considering how tight it is in the playoff race, we have to be

ready from the jump.”

Allen and the Grizzlies are trying to avoid a slow start similar

to the one they had Wednesday. Coming off an emotional 111-104 win

over NBA-best San Antonio on Sunday, Memphis trailed by 10 early in

the third quarter, but outscored the Warriors 62-33 after that.

Zach Randolph had 20 points, 13 rebounds and six assists while

Allen scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, shooting 10 of

17. The Grizzlies shot a season-best 56.5 percent, clinching their

first winning season since 2005-06.

“Tony Allen’s out there anchoring the defense,” Golden State’s

Stephen Curry said. “They all work together and move well. They

clog the paint, and when you get in the lane, it’s tough to finish.

They’ve got some big guys down there.”

Memphis had a 76-50 advantage on points in the paint.

It was Allen’s second straight 20-point game after he finished

with 23 on 9-of-10 shooting against the Spurs. Although he’s

averaging just 8.8 points this season, he’s scoring 15.7 over his

last seven games.

The Grizzlies have lost their last two meetings with the Hornets

and will try to even the series over the next 10 days. The teams

meet again on April 10 in Memphis.

New Orleans won the last contest against Memphis 98-91 on March

4 despite limited playing time from David West, who left the game

without scoring due to a sprained ankle. The Hornets have won two

of three since losing their leading scorer to a season-ending ACL

tear.

Carl Landry, who moved into the starting lineup when West was

injured, has averaged 21.3 points in that role. He had 21 on

Wednesday, helping to make up for the fact that Chris Paul was held

to 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Paul did have 12 assists.

“Even though Chris struggled a little bit, he hit some big shots

down the stretch and Carl Landry was big,” said reserve guard

Willie Green, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. “It was a

big win … big, big, big. Tonight was a playoff atmosphere and we

expect it to be like this for the rest of the season.”

Paul is averaging 21.5 points and 13.0 assists in two games

against the Grizzlies this season.

The Hornets play their next four and five of their final seven

games at home.