Gasol's 22 points lead Grizzlies past Hornets
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Marc Gasol likes to think his good basketball genes go beyond his 7-foot-1 stature and even affect his decision-making on the court.
"I try to make the right play every time," Gasol said. "If it's my shot, it's my shot. If I feel somebody else has a better shot than I'm going to take, I have to pass it. That's my DNA. There's nothing I can really change with that."
Not that the Grizzlies would want Gasol to change much after the way he dominated in Memphis' 93-87 victory over the reeling New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.
Gasol, the brother of Lakers All-Star, Pau, scored all of his season-high 22 points before the fourth quarter and grabbed 12 rebounds, helping the Grizzlies extend their winning streak to four and climb above .500 for the first time this season with a 7-6 record.
"That's the number I care about -- how many win we have," Gasol said when asked about whether his stat line against the Hornets is what he expects from himself on a consistent basis. "We have seven wins. We're over .500 right now and we're improving every game."
Mike Conley hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points and 10 assists for Memphis, which had five players score in double figures while sending the Hornets to their fifth straight loss and 11th defeat in 12 games.
Jarrett Jack tied a season-high with 27 points and his pull-up jumper got New Orleans as close as 87-85 with 1:28 left, but O.J. Mayo's 20-foot jumper helped the Grizzlies hang on as New Orleans struggled to score or get key rebounds in the final minute.
"We've just got to make better basketball plays," Jack said. "It has nothing to do with the coaches, anybody else. It's these 15 guys in the locker room, it's on our shoulders to make it and get it better."
Trevor Ariza had 18 points, seven assists and four steals -- all season highs -- for the Hornets in his return from a pulled right groin that had sidelined him for eight games.
Mayo scored 16 for Memphis, which shot 49 percent (36 of 73). Rudy Gay and Tony Allen each added 12 points.
"Another great win. We're trying to build some consistency," Allen said. "They made a run and we were able to weather the storm. ... We're doing a good job of sharing the ball and we have the confidence to make the pass to the open guy."
Jason Smith scored 14 in a starting role for New Orleans, while Marco Belinelli added 10.
New Orleans never led and trailed by as much as 14 in the first half, but managed to keep the game close by shooting nearly 49 percent (34 of 70).
The Grizzlies had 17 turnovers, but the Hornets did them one worse with 18.
"Obviously when you continually have these shortcomings, it gets frustrating," Jack said. "If you come in and you're like, `We have to take care of the turnovers,' and we still have 18 turnovers. That's when it's like, `Come on guys. We're better than this.'"
Memphis outrebounded New Orleans 37-34, and outscored the Hornets 38-30 inside and 13-2 on fast breaks.
The Grizzlies appeared to be cruising to victory when Mayo's 3 made it 87-75, but the Hornets responded with a scrappy 10-0 run during which Jack scored six straight points on a driving layup and a pair of jumpers before Memphis held on.
Gasol hit a variety of mid-range jumpers to complement his inside scoring and his last field goal was a dunk that gave the Grizzlies a 72-67 lead heading into the final period. He also had a pair of key offensive rebounds in the final minute of the game.
Memphis exploded out of the gate, hitting 11 of its first 13 shots including Conley's three 3-pointers, the third giving the Grizzlies a 27-14 lead. They closed the first quarter shooting 81 percent (13 of 16), which was good enough for a 33-22 lead and also marked the most points the Hornets had given up in a first quarter this season.
Memphis shot 64 percent in the opening half (23 of 36), but the Hornets shot well enough in the second quarter (9 of 17) to keep the game competitive.
Jack reached 12 points in the second quarter when he hit his second 3 during a 7-0 run that pulled New Orleans to 49-45. Ariza had 10 points in the first half, hitting a jumper that trimmed Memphis' lead to 51-48 before Gasol responded with a pair of mid-range jumpers to give the Grizzlies a 55-48 lead going into the locker room.
NOTES: The Hornets used their seventh different starting lineup in 14 games. ... The Grizzlies are 2-0 against New Orleans this season. ... The Hornets are back on the court Thursday night in Houston, while Memphis plays at Detroit on Friday. ... The Grizzlies are 6-3 since Zach Randolph went out with a torn right medial collateral ligament on Jan. 1. ... Announced attendance was a season-low 12,045.