Minutes prior to tip-off, the Pelicans announced Tyreke Evans was going to miss the contest against the Memphis Grizzlies. Reportedly, he felt soreness in his recently surgically repaired knee in warm-ups, the same knee that was drained Thursday but it didn't prevent him from playing the very next day.
Against a staunch defense and a reserve point guard, Norris Cole, running the show, the Pelicans started off predictably frosty. They had just 8 field goal attempts versus 5 turnovers in the first 8 minutes of the game; however, they weathered the ineptitude with some very good defense. Then, New Orleans rode some strong shooting and a number of free throw attempts down the stretch to seize a 26-24 at the end of the first quarter.
Mike Conley kicked off the scoring with a three-pointer in the second quarter, and the Grizzlies grabbed a 40-34 lead roughly midway through the frame. The Pelicans, reliant on the deep ball, had yet to drain their first three of the game; thus, Anthony Davis decided to make his presence felt.
Anthony Davis makes the tough shot despite contact from Marc Gasol https://t.co/6iK2q0lIUu— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) January 18, 2016
He scored 7 of the team's next 9 points to help New Orleans re-take the lead. However, the best of the first half was saved for last and it came from Ryan Anderson, the star against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. With time running out, the Flame Thrower connected on this beauty to give the Pelicans a 51-49 advantage.
New Orleans Pelicans first three pointer of the game comes courtesy of Ryan Anderson at the halftime buzzer https://t.co/h7pjnapJ9w— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) January 18, 2016
Eric Gordon kicked off the scoring for New Orleans in the third quarter with his first three-pointer of the game. The two teams stayed neck and neck, but when the teams were tied at 60, Marc Gasol pushed Anthony Davis in his back. Davis immediately grabbed at the area, so following another Conley three, he was forced to leave the game.
With the Pelicans superstar sitting on the bench, the team would manage just a lone Dante Cunningham three-pointer over the next four minutes. Alexis Ajinca finally broke the lid off the rim following his first hoop of the game. The Pelicans then made 4 free throws, a made jumper by Ajinca and a three-pointer by Holiday in the final 1:24 to take a 76-72 lead into the final frame.
To add to the hope, Davis returned at the start of the 4th quarter. However, all the good vibes didn't translate as Memphis took an 82-81 lead at the 7:16 mark. Norris Cole was absolutely terrible at the controls and the Grizzlies went on the run thanks to the Pelicans offense stalling for a second time in the game.
New Orleans would make one last run and the effort nearly resulted in victory. Jrue Holiday checked in and had a part in the Pelicans final 18 points during the remaining 6:46 of the game.
Unfortunately, Jeff Green and Matt Barnes (seriously?) caught fire, and the Pelicans were unable to get another stop or two when it mattered most. Down two points, Courtney Lee missed a second free throw. Life? Nah. Davis was unable to get a hand on the rebound, and Gasol tipped the ball into the back court to end the game.
Despite a back issue, Davis led the way with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. Holiday scored 23 on just 13 shots with 9 assists.
The Grizzlies were as balanced as one will ever see a team. Four players finished with 16 points and Mike Conley had 15.