Pelicans slip past Grizzlies
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(TSX / STATS) -- MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When Vince Carter hit a 3-pointer with 48.5 seconds left in the game Wednesday night at FedExForum, the Memphis Grizzlies had almost erased a 16-point, fourth-quarter deficit.
Carter's triple cut the New Orleans Pelicans' lead to 92-91. However, the Grizzlies would not score again, and they lost 95-91, missing an opportunity to bank another victory as they fight for playoff seeding in the Western Conference.
"We feel like we let one slip away," said Carter, who finished with five points in the last game before the All-Star break.
Memphis coach David Fizdale said, "We were a little flat, but credit to them -- they really got after us. People don't talk about them like a defensive team, but now that they're healthy, they are really guarding. They defended the heck out of us. I don't know if it was as much as us being flat or if they just beat us. They played well."
Forward Solomon Hill led the scoring for New Orleans (23-34) with a season-high 23 points. Anthony Davis (18 points, seven rebounds) helped keep the Grizzlies at bay when he hit a jumper with 38.8 seconds left to hike the lead to 94-91.
After guard Jrue Holiday (19 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) missed a pair of free throws with 17.7 seconds left, the Grizzlies got another chance. However, point guard Mike Conley (17 points, four assists) missed a contested 3-point attempt as the possession broke down. Langston Galloway closed the scoring for the Pelicans by sinking a free throw with 2.3 seconds left.
"You had to know they were going to make a run at us," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "All you want to do is find a way to win the game, especially in this building."
Forward Alexis Ajinca produced a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans, who matched the Grizzlies with 40 points in the paint.
"We just wanted to defend, make them take some tough shots, and then if they miss, come up with the rebounds," Davis said. "That was it. They like to play physical, and we tried to play physical back."
Down 77-61, Memphis opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run to pull within 77-70. Holiday scored the Pelicans' first points of the fourth quarter when he hit a corner 3-pointer at the 8:20 mark to boost the lead to 80-70.
The Grizzlies (34-24) never maintained momentum long enough to seize control of the game. They started the night on a 12-3 run and then hit a wall. They trailed 28-22 at the end of the first quarter and were down seven points at halftime.
"We played in waves," said Memphis center Marc Gasol, who just missed a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. "We started the game well, then we kind of stopped playing defense and we just kept going up and down, couldn't be consistent enough or disciplined enough. We don't play good defense; it puts way too much pressure on our offense."
Gasol also found fault with his shooting: 6 of 17 from the floor, 0 of 3 from behind the arc.
"I thought that if I would have shot the ball better tonight, we would have won, honestly," Gasol said.
New Orleans shot 49.3 percent from the floor and made 8 of 18 from long distance (44.4 percent). The Grizzlies shot 37.1 percent from the field and were 6 of 33 (18.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Pelicans survived a bad night at the free-throw line, going 13 of 22 (59.1 percent).
Power forward Zach Randolph had 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Memphis.
Gentry took some satisfaction in going 3-1 on the road trip before the All-Star break, saying that when the Pelicans return, "We have to come back locked in."
A year ago, an injury-plagued Memphis team that used an NBA-record 28 players hobbled to an 11-18 record after the break. Healthier this year, swingman Tony Allen said whether the Grizzlies move up in the West standings is on them.
"Everything is in our control," Allen said.
NOTES: New Orleans C Anthony Davis entered Wednesday's game fifth in the NBA in scoring (27.9 points), sixth in rebounding (12.0) and tied for first in blocks (2.48). He blocked two shots. ... Grizzlies G/F Vince Carter, at 40 years and 19 days, made 4 of 5 3-pointers Monday night at Brooklyn, becoming the oldest player in NBA history to make at least four in a game. Carter was four days older than Jason Kidd was when he hit four 3-pointers in February 2013. ... Pelicans F Terrence Jones missed his fourth straight game with a right thumb sprain, and F Dante Cunningham missed his second consecutive game due to personal reasons.
Updated February 16, 2017