DeMarcus Cousins and an apparently under-the-weather Anthony Davis absolutely manhandled (bear-handled?) Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies last night, despite the continued reality that they play in a sparsely-populated and horribly named arena, the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans blitzed the Grizzlies in the second half, going on a 61-41 scoring tear. After finding themselves down 41-34 at half time, New Orleans quickly made up that deficit, going 14-5 (within the third quarter’s first five minutes) to kick things off after the break. The two All-Stars combined for 60 points and 30 rebounds, with Cousins (who had 41 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from deep, and 17 rebounds) a +22 on the night and Davis (who chipped in 19 points and 13 rebounds) a +24.
The Pelicans used their front line size and speed to their advantage last night, despite rough shooting numbers for both teams (New Orleans converted just 39.8% of their shot attempts from the field, Memphis 40.5%).
The Grizzlies lost the first of a crucial four-game road trip as they jockey for playoff positioning with the Oklahoma City Thunder — and, to a lesser extent, the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. Memphis, at 40-31, is just 0.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-30) in a battle for the 6th seed in the Western Conference playoff race. They are 2.5 games behind LA (43-29) and 3 games behind the Utah Jazz (43-28), who currently hold the coveted 4th seed and home court advantage in the first round.
Memphis has two tough games coming up, against the cream of the Western Conference crop, the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors (who have both already clinched playoff berths). It’s going to be a slugfest down the home stretch of this playoff shuffle. And Memphis will be hard-pressed to win much if they play the way they did last night.
Marc Gasol: D
New Orleans’ massive front court posed a challenge to Big Spain with their scoring ability all over the floor — and, again, 30 rebounds between ‘em. In 37 minutes, Marc Gasol had just 10 points (he was 5-of-13 from the field and 0-of-3 from deep), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals, 1 block, and 3 fouls. Gasol was -11 overall. At the very least, he should have ground his way to more looks at the free throw line, with the foul-happy Cousins on his tail.
Vince Carter: D+
Chandler Parsons’ replacement for the rest of the season, Vince Carter, logged 34 minutes of aggressive play. Sadly, Half-Man, Half-Amazing had just 4 points (on 2-of-9 shooting, including 0-for-6 from three-point range) and 2 rebounds on a -27 plus-minus night — but a decent 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. Hey, he’s a 40 year-old man! Can’t get too mad.
Mike Conley: B-
Conley had probably the best night among all of the Grizzlies, though that’s not saying much. In 31 minutes, the point guard scored 16 points (6-of-14 shooting from the field) and tallied 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 fouls, on a 0 plus-minus night.
JaMychal Green: C+
Half-Man, Half-Pogo Stick had 12 points (on 4-of-6 shooting), a depressingly paltry 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in just 18 minutes of game action (Brandan Wright played 20). Green’s effectiveness and floor time were limited by his 5 fouls, and he had to settle for a -8 plus-minus rating on the night.
Wayne Selden Jr.: D+
Recent Pelicans starting shooting guard Selden, who signed with Memphis three days ago after the Grizz waived Toney Douglas, had a poor night in his first start for the Grizzlies. The Kansas product, a recent D-League call-up, had just 4 points (on 2-of-6 shooting) in 16 minutes of action, to go along with 2 rebounds and 1 steal. Selden was a not-too-stellar -12 in overall plus-minus.
Zach Randolph: C-
Z-Bo isn’t going to get a Sixth Man Of The Year award playing the way he did last night. In 19 minutes, Zach Randolph notched just 4 points (he was 2-of-11 — 18.2%! — from the field), a good 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 turnovers. He was -7 overall.
Tony Allen was a DNP – CD, though the other bench cogs didn’t fare much better. Randolph was joined by Wright, Andrew Harrison, and James Ennis in underwhelming the Pelicans. Only Troy Daniels played particularly well, shooting only triples and converting 4 of 8 attempts for 12 points. Daniels was +8 in a scant 24 minutes of action, and deserved a few more touches at the clip he was hitting. Alas.