Davis lifts Pelicans over Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Whatever problems the New Orleans Pelicans face, playing the Memphis Grizzlies seems to resolve them — including overcoming an eight-game losing streak.
Anthony Davis scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Pelicans won for only the second time in January, claiming a 95-92 victory over Memphis on Monday.
The Pelicans have won all three games against the Grizzlies this season, the only three games New Orleans has won in the Southwest Division. Meanwhile, Memphis has lost all 10 games against teams in the division.
"It feels good to get a win," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "Like I told our guys, you can’t get wins like this if you don’t have big-time character and tough guys in your locker room."
Tyreke Evans added 15 points, 11 of them in the fourth quarter. He also had seven assists. Brian Roberts scored 13 points and Eric Gordon finished with 12 for the short-handed Pelicans. Alexis Ajinca scored 10 points, and Davis added four blocks and four steals to his stat line.
"Our defense was horrible," said Memphis forward Zach Randolph, who led the Grizzlies with 23 points and a season-high 20 rebounds, equally split between offensive and defensive boards.
Courtney Lee had 19 points and Marc Gasol finished with 14 points. Mike Conley had 13 for Memphis, which saw an end to its five-game winning streak.
The Pelicans won minus three key players — Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith, all out with injuries. The trio, plus reserve guard Anthony Morrow, who didn’t make the trip because of illness, left New Orleans with 10 available players.
"Everybody contributed all the way down to the 10th guy," Davis said. "Everybody is stepping up, and that’s what we need while guys are down."
New Orleans players pointed to controlling Randolph and Gasol as a key component against the Memphis, which lost on its annual game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"We just played really good defense," Gordon said. "We tried to attack them on offense to make them help. Our bigs did a pretty good job. It’s been a tough time these past few weeks."
The Grizzlies got within 93-91 when Lee hit a bank shot with a minute left, but Davis made a 15-footer with 35.6 seconds remaining as the shot clock was expiring.
Memphis struggled with turnovers, committing 18 to the Pelicans’ 10. New Orleans led by 10 points in the first half.
Davis and Randolph both struggled in the first half before taking over the scoring for their teams in the third quarter.
Davis was 4 of 6 in the period and 7 of 8 from the line for 15 points in the quarter. Randolph hit 7 of 9 shots for 17 points, helping the Grizzlies take a 69-68 lead heading into the fourth.
"We came out and fought for the whole 48 (minutes)," Davis said. "We didn’t fall back in that third quarter like we usually do. We’ve got to continue to do that."
New Orleans took the lead for good with nine unanswered points in the middle of the fourth, five of them coming from Evans.
And unlike Davis’ assessment of the Pelicans play, Memphis coach Dave Joerger saw a more ho-hum approach from his players — a troublesome trend he’s noticed for a week even though the Grizzlies have escaped with late bursts in their last two wins over Milwaukee and Sacramento.
"We walked around," Joerger said. "We are not going to play better until we play harder. We have to run harder. We have to screen harder, and we have to defend harder from the first minute of the game."
NOTES: Memphis is 5-7 all-time in MLK games. … As part of the MLK Day festivities, the Grizzlies honored former NBA players Jo Jo White, Dikembe Mutombo and Bernard King for their contributions to civil rights and human rights. … At 0-10 in the Southwest, Memphis is the only NBA team without a win in its division. … James Johnson had two blocks for Memphis, marking his career-best seventh straight game with multiple blocks.