Pelicans in need of win vs. shorthanded Grizzlies
NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Pelicans will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night in the second game of a back-to-back.
To make matters worse for the New Orleans, the Grizzlies were resting comfortably in their hotel on Sunday while the Pelicans fell 101-92 on the road Sunday night to Oklahoma City.
Such is the relentless nature of the NBA schedule. The problem is that the Pelicans (7-14), losers of two straight, are in serious need of some home cooking against the Grizzlies (13-8), who have won two consecutive games despite a seriously depleted roster.
The Grizzlies had only nine players available but still defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 103-100 on Saturday night behind a career-high 31 points by Troy Daniels. The victory was proof to coach David Fizdale that his “Nasty Nine” have played with moxie.
Memphis limited the Lakers to 2-of-9 shooting and forced two turnovers in the final five minutes to pull out the home victory. The same thing happened in the Grizzlies' previous victory over Orlando, when Memphis forced five turnovers in the final six minutes to win 95-94.
“(Fizdale) came in and gave us a scolding at halftime (against the Lakers), and guys responded in the second half,” said Memphis swingman Tony Allen. “It showed in our effort. It showed in the way that we gathered ourselves defensively down the stretch.”
The Grizzlies will be without point guard Michael Conley, who will miss the next six to eight weeks with a transverse process fracture in his back. Also, Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph is out indefinitely following the death of his mother, Mae. Randolph, averaging 14.2 points and a team-leading 7.9 rebounds per game, has missed the last six games.
Fizdale went ballistic at halftime of the Lakers' game because he felt his team was not playing hard in Randolph's absence. Memphis allowed 62 first-half points to Los Angeles.
“I was really unhappy with our effort,” Fizdale said. “I don't yell at them for execution or breakdowns in coverage or anything like that. But when we dog it and we don't get back on defense or when we don't compete on a high level, I lose it.”
The Pelicans were down by as many as 15 points at Oklahoma City on Sunday night before closing within four points late in the fourth quarter. But Russell Westbrook would not let the Thunder lose. Westbrook (28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists) recorded the 47th triple-double of his career and 10th this season.
Westbrook's performance blunted another heroic losing effort by Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who scored 37 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had four blocks in 43 minutes.
It was Davis' 14th 30-point performance in 20 games, but his body is under a lot of stress, He is logging the third-most minutes in the NBA.
“I thought we had our chances, but we just didn't take advantage of it,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought we did about as good a job on Russell as you can do in the first half, and the guy still ends up with 17 rebounds.”
One bright spot for New Orleans was a 16-point effort by rookie shooting guard Buddy Hield, who made 4 of 7 from long range while playing back in his adopted home state.
“I had a lot of jitters,” said Hield, who played college ball at Oklahoma. “I shot an air ball (on my first shot), and I had to make it up.”
The Pelicans also moved point guard Tim Frazier to the second unit where he can be the primary ball-handler off the bench. E'Twaun Moore started in the backcourt.