Rudy Gay scored 20 points and Zach Randolph added 15, but it wasn’t enough as Memphis fell to New Orleans 95-80 on the road in the final preseason game of the 2011-12 season.
Memphis jumped out to an early 4-0 lead behind buckets from Rudy Gay and Tony Allen, but the Hornets fought back and took an 11-8 lead after a three-point shot by newly-acquired Ben Gordon. The Grizzlies led by as many as 11 after Zach Randolph converted a reverse layup on an assist from Gay to make it 28-17. However, the Hornets rebounded with an 11-2 run to close the first quarter, and Memphis took a narrow 28-26 advantage into the second quarter.
Chris Kaman made a jumper on the first play of the second quarter to tie the game at 28, but Josh Davis responded with a triple for Memphis to retake the lead at 31-28 with 10:37 remaining in the half. Several defensive lapses by Memphis allowed New Orleans to make a strong run and take a 55-45 advantage into halftime.
Both teams started cold in the second half with two empty possessions before Allen buried a jumper on a Conley feed to narrow the Hornets lead to 55-47. The Grizzlies came within two points at 57-55 after a Conley bucket at the 8:06 mark, but two free throws from Jarret Jack and two baskets by Quincy Pondexter helped the Hornets regain a 63-55 lead with just over six minutes left in the quarter. New Orleans kept its foot on the pedal and took a 76-61 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies seemed content with giving their reserves some good minutes and accepting the loss. At one point, Memphis put the following lineup on the floor: Jeremy Pargo, Josh Selby, Greivis Vasquez, Davis and Sam Young. Really. Memphis never got closer than 11 points in the final quarter and ended up losing 95-80.
The Grizzlies officially begin the 2011-12 season on Dec. 26 with a road game against the San Antonio Spurs. It’s the first meeting between the two teams since Memphis defeated the Spurs in six games in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Thoughts on the game:
- It’s hard to get a real feel of the team’s performance right now because Marc Gasol hasn’t played a single minute yet. When he’s on the floor, the Grizzlies are so much better, especially on defense. Gasol erases mistakes made by the guards on the perimeter.
- Rudy Gay is as healthy as he’s been in a couple of years. Gay started the game on a hot streak and finished the first half with 18 points while going a perfect 6-for-6 from the field.
- Jeremy Pargo has shown some true potential in the preseason. The rookie guard finished with nine points, four rebounds and zero turnovers in 23 minutes.
- Bad news: Only one Grizzlies player had a positive +/- stat – Brian Skinner. The lack of positive stats in this category show a need for the team to work better together. The +/- stat looks at point differentials when certain players are in the game and how the team performs with different player combinations on the floor.