Hawks beat Grizzlies in season opener
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Larry Drew didn't play, but he left the FedExForum with a game ball anyway.
Drew received the honor after winning his first game as Atlanta coach, a 119-104 road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in both teams' season openers. Drew watched Joe Johnson lead the Hawks with 22 points and Zaza Pachulia provide a spark off the bench with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Drew, who replaced Mike Woodson in the offseason, had a big smile on his face when talking about the game ball.
"It's huge. I've been thinking about this for a long time," Drew said. "This is my first win. I've got to enjoy it."
Drew heaped praise on Pachulia and the Hawks' bench, which outscored the Grizzlies' 50-28. Reserve guard Jamal Crawford scored 13 points.
"The bench just did a tremendous job," Drew said. "That's just the way we have to play. We have to play with energy. We have to fly around."
Mike Bibby added 19 points as the Hawks shot 53 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free throw line. Atlanta has won its last four season openers.
Since coming to Memphis from Vancouver, the Grizzlies are 0-10 in season openers.
The Grizzlies were undermanned due to injuries to two key big men. Center Marc Gasol missed the game with a sprained left ankle, and Memphis lost All-Star forward Zach Randolph to a lower back injury during the game.
Without them, the Grizzlies were outrebounded 44-39 and outscored 50-44 in the paint. Josh Smith had five blocked shots for the Hawks.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 23 points and eight assists, and Rudy Gay added 21 points and 10 rebounds. Darrell Arthur scored a career-high 19 points starting in place of Gasol.
Johnson's 3-pointer with 5:12 left in the game gave the Hawks a 111-91 lead, silenced the Grizzlies crowd and sent fans to the exits. The 20-point lead was the Hawks' largest of the game.
The Grizzlies had pared down the Hawks' lead to 13 on a jump shot by Xavier Henry with 8:50 left. But Johnson scored nine in the fourth quarter and Bibby added eight, sealing the win.
"We were very poised out there on the road, and we made plays when we needed to," Johnson said. "We knew we had to come out and try and hit first. They were at home and trying to feed off their crowd."
Memphis made it competitive in the third quarter, slicing the Hawks' third-quarter lead 79-75 on a layup by Conley. But the Hawks scored 12 straight points, including four free throws by Pachulia, to build a 91-75 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Grizzlies went scoreless for the final 3:25 of the third, and home fans booed after a missed dunk by Hasheem Thabeet ended the quarter.
The Hawks built a 37-24 lead in the second quarter, helped by strong bench play from Maurice Evans and Pachulia. The Grizzlies cut the Hawks' lead to eight on two free throws by Gay, but the Hawks extended the lead to 62-50 at the half.
Pachulia led the Hawks in the first half with 13 points and nine rebounds, Johnson had 11 points and Evans added seven.
"Pachulia just killed us on the glass all night long," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "That was a huge factor."
Pachulia's road to the basket was made easier when Randolph fell hard on his right lower back while trying to make a shot in the paint with 8:33 left in the first quarter. He was undercut by a stumbling Al Horford, then got up slowly.
Randolph limped off the court during a timeout, then returned to make two free throws. He struggled down the court on defense and asked to be taken out with 8 minutes left in the quarter. He walked to the locker room with medical staff.
Randolph returned to the game with about a minute left in the first, but appeared to have trouble jumping for shots and rebounds. He scored four points on 1-of-6 shooting, then did not return for the second half and was replaced in the lineup by Sam Young.
Before the game, Hollins said that if Gasol cannot play on Thursday at Dallas, he probably won't play Friday's home game against Minnesota.
As for Randolph, the Grizzlies forward described himself as day-to-day.
"I'm very sore," Randolph said. "I just have to see how it feels tomorrow, get some treatment. I'm going to come back when I'm 100 percent."
In a touching moment, the Grizzlies honored former Memphis and Atlanta player Lorenzen Wright before the game with a moment of silence. Wright, a Memphis native, was found shot to death in a wooded area in July after being missing for 10 days. No one has been arrested.
NOTES: The last time the Grizzlies won on opening night was when they were in Vancouver, defeating the Seattle SuperSonics at home, 94-88 on Oct. 31, 2000. ... Memphis went 8-0 in the preseason ... Atlanta has won eight of its last nine regular-season games against Memphis and is 20-10 all-time against the Grizzlies. ... The Hawks are 6-13 in road openers.
Updated October 27, 2010