Tony Allen went 7-for-10 from the field and scored a team-high 17 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Memphis Grizzlies fell 97-90 in their preseason home opener to the New Orleans Hornets Friday night at FedExForum.
Zach Randolph scored the first and last points of the first quarter, making a jumper 16 seconds into the game to give Memphis a 2-0 lead and then connecting on a corner triple at the buzzer to extend the advantage to 28-24.
Greivis Vasquez, Rudy Gay and Tony Allen all scored four points in the second quarter as Memphis maintained took a 47-45 lead into the break. Randolph finished with eight points in 16 minutes of play.
Newly-signed guard Jeremy Pargo found Gay for a three-pointer and then made a layup of his own to push the Memphis lead to 52-45 coming out of halftime. The Grizzlies led by as many as 12 when Pargo made a reverse layup on assist from Allen to take a 63-51 advantage.
The Hornets fought back and took a 64-63 lead on a layup by Emeka Okafor at the 3:48 mark. Memphis regained a 73-71 edge heading into the final period behind an alley-oop slam by Allen and another three-point bucket by Pargo.
The Grizzlies were leading by seven at 82-75 after an O.J. Mayo triple with 8:51 to play, but New Orleans refused to go away. Memphis was whistled for a defensive three-second violation, and the Hornets converted the free throw and a bank shot by Trey Johnson on the ensuring offensive posession to tie the game at 82.
The two teams traded buckets and were tied at 89 after a layup by Mayo with 2:46 left in the game. The Hornets went on a decisive 6-0 run fueled by four free throws to take a 95-89 advantage before closing it out for a 97-90 victory.
Fans got a chance to see star Rudy Gay back in action for the first time since he injured his shoulder last season. Gay finished with 15 points, four turnovers and three blocked shots in 25 minutes of play. O.J. Mayo also scored in double figures, finishing with 12 points in a team-high 33 minutes off the bench.
Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur, Sam Young and Xavier Henry all missed the game due to injuries. Henry is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Hamed Haddadi is in the process of getting back into the country and is expected by the beginning of the regular season. Mik Conley didn’t play due to a coaching decision.
More than 11,000 fans were in attendance for the preseason matchup. Memphis will have four days off before a rematch with the Hornets in New Orleans on Wed., Dec. 21st. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. at New Orleans Arena.
Watch head coach Lionel Hollins post game press conference: http://www.nba.com/grizzlies/video/postgame-pressor-coach-hollins-7
Preston McClellan covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @p_mcclellan.