Paul held scoreless in 111-89 loss
The Memphis Grizzlies aren't letting up even after clinching a spot in the playoffs. Instead they continue inching up the Western Conference standings.
O.J. Mayo scored 18 points, Marc Gasol added 16 and the Grizzlies continued their march to the postseason with a 111-89 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night.
''We're still hungry. We're thirsty dogs,'' said reserve forward Darrell Arthur, who had eight points. ''We're trying to go out there and win every game. We're not trying to just stop because we made the playoffs. It doesn't stop there. It stops when we lose in the playoffs.''
Memphis limited New Orleans to 41-percent shooting and held All-Star guard Chris Paul scoreless for the first time in his career. Paul missed all six of his field goal attempts and a pair of free throws, but did have 10 assists.
''I just couldn't make nothing. There's a first time for everything,'' said Paul, who thought there was another scoreless game against Memphis previously. ''I had some good looks, they just didn't go in.''
Mike Conley, who guarded Paul most of the night, also was unaware it was the first time the Hornets guard failed to score in his six-year career.
''Not a lot of people can do it,'' Conley said of shutting down Paul. ''When I was in there, my job was to make it tough on him and not let him get in the paint, create too many plays or get too many shots up.''
Both teams have clinched playoff spots and now are jockeying for position. The victory pulled Memphis even with the Hornets for the seventh spot. The teams split the season series 2-2, but the Hornets own the second tiebreaker with a better record in the Southwest Division.
''Unfortunately, I think this was our emotional letdown game,'' Hornets coach Monty Williams said.
Sam Young and Zach Randolph scored 14 points apiece for Memphis, which won for the sixth time in seven games. Greivis Vasquez added a career-high 13 points, hitting all five of his shots. Randolph had six assists.
Marco Belinelli led the Hornets with 18 points, 16 of them in the first quarter. Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry and Willie Green added 11 each for New Orleans, which saw its three-game winning streak end.
Memphis continued its season-long trend of dominating inside with 56 points in the paint, compared to 28 for New Orleans. Memphis outrebounded the Hornets 41-34, although New Orleans did grab 11 offensive boards leading to 19 second-chance points.
''They had close to 60 points in the paint. I think they had 30 at halftime,'' Williams said. ''They got up to 70-percent shooting in the third quarter. That's embarrassing. There's no other way to put it.''
Belinelli went 6 of 9 from the field in the first quarter, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, to help the Hornets shoot 52 percent in the period. But Memphis countered by going 13 of 16 in the first quarter to leave the game tied at 30 heading into the second.
The Grizzlies maintained a strong shooting percentage, ending the half at 66 percent and carrying a 52-48 lead.
Randolph had 10 points for Memphis, which was stymied by 10 first-half turnovers.
The Grizzlies opened the second half on a 17-8 run for a 69-56 lead, their biggest to that point. Mayo's leaner with 2 seconds left in the third gave the Grizzlies an 82-67 lead as Memphis outscored New Orleans 30-19 in the period.
''They came up from the jump and knocked down shots,'' said Hornets guard Jarrett Jack, who scored 10 points. ''I think that translated to energy on the defensive end.''
Memphis then opened the fourth quarter with a 13-3 rally to push the lead to 95-70.
Neither team was willing to talk about possible playoff opponents.
''The only thing we can control is our wins and losses,'' Paul said. ''We're one of those teams, we haven't been together long enough to say this is who we want to play, or who we don't want to play. We've just got to continue to play, deal with it as a team, and deal with who we have to play when we get to it.''
NOTES: A number of the Grizzlies' players and personnel had a different look Sunday. By clinching a playoff berth with Friday's win over Sacramento, the vow not to shave until they reached the postseason was over. Several of the players and coaches modified their look. Others got rid of the facial hair altogether. F Shane Battier shaved his off immediately after Friday's game. ... Memphis is 4-12 in home finales. ... The Grizzlies' first-half shooting percentage was the best for the franchise since April 2, 2008, against the Knicks when they shot 68.2 percent. ... Paul got a technical foul with 3:08 left in the third when he got upset about a plastic sports drink bottle ending up on the floor during play. He kept complaining to the officials about it until he drew the tech.