Pelicans to get healthy dose of Grizzlies this time around (Feb 15, 2017)
When Memphis beat New Orleans on Dec. 5, Marc Gasol had a triple-double and the Grizzlies hung on to beat the Pelicans 110-108 in double overtime.
Gasol posted 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Grizzlies, who resembled a M*A*S*H unit more than an NBA team. They won that game without Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Chandler Parsons or Vince Carter.
With a mish-mash of journeymen and rookies, coach David Fizdale's squad overcame 28 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots from New Orleans All-Star Anthony Davis.
The two big men go head-to-head Wednesday night at FedExForum in Memphis in both teams' final game before the All-Star break.
But this time, the Grizzlies are at full strength and coming off a 112-103 win over the Brooklyn Nets, who have the league's worst record.
Gasol toyed with a triple-double, compiling 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists against the Nets.
Conley scored 32 points and single-handedly took control to ensure a road win for the Grizzlies. With just under four minutes left and the Nets hanging dangerously close, Conley sank six foul shots, a 3-pointer and a layup on the way to his fifth 30-point game of the season.
"Take over, and I love that," Fizdale said of Conley's play in the final minutes. "He, or Marc Gasol, or both at any time. Their light is super green to take the game over and to be really aggressive about taking over the game, and I was happy to see him do it."
A loss heading into the All-Star break to the Nets would have cast a pall on the team that has fought through multiple injuries to be a solid playoff contender.
"It was very important. This was a huge win for us, regardless of records and who we're playing," Conley said. "This was a must-win game for us and we came in and took care of business. Now we have one more coming into the All-Star break and we have to come in and focus."
Standing in the Grizzlies' way though is the 6-foot-10 Davis, who on Monday logged his 36th double-double of the season in a win over Phoenix -- the team with the worst record in the Western Conference.
Davis scored the final three Pelicans baskets, including a 5-foot jump hook on a putback with 40.3 seconds left to put the Pelicans ahead to stay in a 110-108 win over the Phoenix Suns.
"We executed and we fought. There is a lot of toughness on this team," Davis said. "(Phoenix) is a good team. Better than their record. They have a lot of guys who can score doing a variety of things. We just grinded it out and got the win."
Davis finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans (22-34).
The Pelicans' All-Star is averaging 28.0 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 blocks per game and has received a lot of help from guard Jrue Holiday. In his eighth year, he is having one of his best seasons, averaging 16.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Playing Davis and Holiday on the same side of the floor has been key for the Pelicans, coach Alvin Gentry said.
"We have better ball movement ... and we like situations like that, and then we just find a way to score," Gentry said.
Gentry lauded the play of Tyreke Evans and E'twaun Moore, who each scored 15 points. Evans had nine of his 15 points in the second half and made crucial free throws late.
"Tyreke and Anthony really took the game over at the end and made some great plays and defensively we made stops at the end," said Holiday, who had 18 points and eight assists.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, New Orleans is in serious talks to acquire Philadelphia's Jahlil Okafor, with Holiday being a main piece heading to the 76ers, where he played his first four seasons. That would mean more playing time for Evans and Moore.
The Pelicans played the Suns without forwards Terrence Jones (thumb) and Donte Cunningham (personal), who are day to day.