The Memphis Grizzlies are fighting for a playoff spot and the New Orleans Pelicans are at the bottom of the Southwest Division.
It’s been the Pelicans, however, who have controlled this series of late.
With both teams seeking a fourth straight win, visiting Memphis tries to avoid its first series sweep at the hands of New Orleans in six seasons Wednesday night.
The Grizzlies (37-26) are coming off Tuesday’s 109-99 victory over Portland, moving percentage points ahead of Dallas for seventh in the Western Conference and one game ahead of Phoenix for the eighth and final slot. Marc Gasol had 19 points, nine boards and seven assists as Memphis shot a season-high 56.0 percent.
"Even though we are in, we want to be higher," said guard Courtney Lee, whose team opens a crucial three-game road trip Wednesday. "We’re still chasing, and I think that’s the right mindset to have going forward because if you continue to chase, you’ll never get complacent and fall off."
Zach Randolph also came up big with 18 points and 12 boards, and Mike Conley scored 17. The Grizzlies outscored the Trail Blazers 54-36 in the paint and held a 20-12 edge in transition.
Keeping things going could prove difficult against a Pelicans team that’s given them trouble. New Orleans has taken four straight in the series, including all three meetings this season while allowing just 91.3 points per game.
Anthony Davis had 27 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four blocks in the most recent matchup, a 95-92 victory in Memphis on Jan. 20. The Pelicans haven’t swept the Grizzlies since 2007-08.
New Orleans (26-37) has followed a season worst-tying eight-game skid by matching a season best with three straight wins. Davis, averaging 29.7 points and 15.3 boards during the winning streak, had a career high-tying 32 points to go with 17 rebounds and six blocks in Sunday’s 111-107 overtime win over Denver.
No Pelican had ever posted as many points, boards and blocks in a single game since the team was founded as the Charlotte Hornets in 1988.
"That’s a testament to my team. They’re giving me the ball where I can score and cutting hard so their man can’t help, making big shots, playing defense, having my back if I try to go block a shot, boxing out and letting me get the rebounds," said Davis, who turned 21 on Tuesday. "It all goes to the team and not just me. I can’t do it by myself."
Tyreke Evans has emerged as another dangerous option since moving into the starting lineup, averaging 22.0 points while shooting 51.1 percent over the last six games.
"He brings a lot. He’s such a great player," Davis said of Evans. "In my mind, he’s an All-Star with the way he’s able to make big plays and attack the basket and make tough layups. He finds guys and is unbelievable. His being in the starting lineup is huge for us. Hopefully we will get a few more wins in this homestand."
New Orleans erased an early 16-point deficit against the Nuggets by holding them to 40 points in the second half. Anthony Morrow’s jumper with 1 second left in regulation sent the game into OT.
"We worked hard. We love games like this," Davis said. "We locked down defensively in the third and fourth quarters. That’s what we have to do: play our defense, rebound the ball, and get to the rim. … That’s what we need to win as a team."