The New Orleans Pelicans were hoping for a quick start coming off a tough loss.
They did just that, shooting extremely well early and building a big lead in a 99-84 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
Eric Gordon scored 19 points to lead the Pelicans, and Anthony Davis had 18 points and nine rebounds. It was New Orleans’ first road win of the season and followed 104-98 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday.
”We came out with a lot of defensive intensity, moving the ball, sharing the ball pretty well, and we got open shots,” said Davis, who also had three blocks and three steals. ”When we play like that, it is tough for us to get beat.”
Memphis played most of the game without starting forward Zach Randolph, who left in the first half when his fiancee, Faune, went into labor. The Grizzlies announced after halftime that Randolph made it to the hospital in time for the birth of their 7-pound, 4-ounce boy.
Strong defense allowed the Pelicans to get out in transition and hit 13 of their first 16 shots.
”We played really good defense,” Gordon said. ”It gave us opportunities to get fast-break points. We did that all night, and we really hunkered down defensively.”
Tyreke Evans had 16 points, Jrue Holiday scored 11 and Jason Smith finished with 10 points for New Orleans, which led by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 26 points before leaving in the fourth quarter with a cut that required three stitches. Marc Gasol had 11 points for Memphis but connected on only 4 of 11 shots and grabbed one rebound.
While Randolph left to celebrate the birth of his child, two Memphis guards left the game with injuries. Jerryd Bayless sprained his right knee in the third quarter; then Conley left after he caught an inadvertent elbow from New Orleans guard Anthony Morrow.
Bayless is day to day, and Conley was expected to be at practice Thursday.
New Orleans shot at least 50 percent through most of the game before finishing at 49 percent. The Pelicans outrebounded Memphis 39-29 and forced 18 turnovers.
The Grizzlies committed eight turnovers in the first quarter, and the Pelicans made 14 of their first 20 shots in opening a 51-41 lead at halftime. It was a quick reversal from the home loss to the Suns.
”When you lose the way that we lost (Tuesday) night, it leaves a sick feeling in your stomach,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. ”I did expect us to play with a bit of passion and with a chip on our shoulders. I didn’t know that we would come out and have the defensive quarters like we had.”
Things just kept getting worse for Memphis in the second half. New Orleans opened the third with an 8-1 run. Davis had 10 points in the quarter, and New Orleans extended the lead to as many as 23 points before carrying a 79-57 lead into the fourth.
The Grizzlies were so frustrated that Gasol slammed the scorer’s table with both hands in anger as he headed to the huddle at the end of the third quarter.
”We’ve got to play better, play more as a unit and help each other,” Gasol said.
Brian Roberts scored on a 3-pointer and a jumper to start the fourth, and when Morrow scored on a layup after Memphis’ second straight turnover to make it 86-57, the Grizzlies fans started booing.
The Memphis reserves made it a bit exciting in the fourth, crafting a 16-0 run, eventually cutting the Pelicans lead to 93-84 with 2:32 left.
”We are a little frustrated,” Conley said. ”If we lost giving the effort that we normally give and laid it all out there, we would have been fine with that. I saw that we came back at the end, but we were never really in the game.”
NOTES: Memphis is now 0-3 vs. Southwest Division. The Grizzlies were 10-6 in the division last season. . . . Memphis has trailed after three quarters in all five games this season. . . . New Orleans, which entered the game with the best shooting percentage in the league beyond the arc at 52 percent, connected on only 4 of 13 (31 percent).