Grizzlies aim for fifth straight win at Hornets

A week ago, Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale had an important film session. The first-year coach showed Grizzlies footage of a 10-point loss in Milwaukee that dropped the Grizzlies to 4-5.

The film session did not get rave reviews since it highlighted many of the defensive deficiencies on a team known for defending. Through the first nine games, the Grizzlies allowed over 100 points six times. But since the film meeting things have improved, especially defensively.

Memphis takes a four-game winning streak into Monday night, when they visit the Charlotte Hornets.

During this streak, the Grizzlies are allowing 84.5 points, but that figure is even better from a successful back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis allowed 64 and 71 points, respectively, in those two games and held its opponents to a combined 33.5 percent shooting (46-of-137).

“That's what we do. That's what we've been doing,” Memphis forward Zach Randolph said of the defense. “That ain't no surprise.”

Just as notable is what Memphis has done to opposing scorers in the last four games.

In Saturday's 93-71 win, the Grizzlies held Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins to 2 of 11 shooting, and Friday in Dallas Harrison Barnes was 5 of 17. In the first two games of this streak, Memphis held Utah's Gordon Hayward to 4-of-14 shooting and Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul to 3-of-11.

And while Memphis has been clamping down on defense, it has been getting enough offense from different sources. Marc Gasol scored 48 points in Utah and Los Angeles but was held to six points on 2-of-12 shooting Saturday.

“Offensively, our main guys didn't score a lot,” Gasol said. “But our defense was very consistent.”

Instead, JaMychal Green led Memphis with 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He has led the Grizzlies in scoring twice and is one of six players to lead the team in points this season.

While Memphis rebounded with a good week, the Hornets will be looking to recover from their worst defensive night of the year.

Charlotte is among the league's top defensive rated teams but wound up with a 121-116 overtime loss at New Orleans Saturday. The Hornets blew a 14-point lead through the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

In their fourth loss in 12 games, Charlotte gave up 23 fast break points, 14 3-pointers and committed 15 turnovers.

“There's a difference between doing the right thing and losing and then not doing the right thing that allows the other team to get going,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “So, that's what's disappointing is if we're going to be the team I think we can be, you can't play like that.”

Kemba Walker scored 25 points on 10-of-25 shooting, marking the 11th straight game he reached 20 points. Reserve Marco Belinelli added 22 points and Frank Kaminsky had 15.

Those totals were not enough since Charlotte was 8-of-27 from the floor after Kaminsky's 3-pointer gave them a 14-point lead.

“They just made the right plays,” Walker said. “As a team, we just made so many mistakes and they capitalized on every mistake that we made. We paid for it. We played in spurts and that's something that's been hurting us.”

One player who might not be able to help the Hornets recover is Cody Zeller. Zeller sat out with a shoulder injury and is day-to-day.

Last season, the Hornets swept the season series for the first time since 2009-10. Walker scored half of his 22 points in the fourth quarter in Charlotte's 98-92 home win on Dec. 26 and finished with 33 in a 123-99 rout at Memphis on Dec. 11.