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Pelicans seek to maintain positive momentum against Grizzlies

New Orleans has owned Ja Morant’s team. Will their winning ways continue?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The seal has finally been broken in the CJ McCollum era.

After two false starts, the Pelicans and McCollum picked up their first victory together with a 30-point rout of the Toronto Raptors on Monday in the New Orleans version of the Valentine’s Day Massacre.

It’s an overused term, but it was a complete team victory.

Especially when you consider that Tony Snell finally got some run. Snell wasn’t the most high-profile component of the Portland trade but should prove very valuable in his own right.

We’re talking about a career 40 percent three-point shooter (Snell went 2-5 on 3PA against Toronto).

In just 13 minutes, Snell added eight points and a pair of rebounds. His length and ability to shoot from distance should make him an important part of the postseason push.

Now, the Pelicans sit at 2-2 on their six-game home stand, and have fallen a half-game out of the final spot in the Play-In tournament.

Only 25 games remain in the season, and the Pelicans have to secure home court to remain in the chase.

New Orleans is 13-15 at the Smoothie King Center, and they need the final two games of this series just to get to .500 at home.

The task isn’t easy, not with divisional rivals the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks visiting over the next three days.

It’s a tremendous task taking on a Memphis team sitting third in the Western Conference standings and riding its own five-game winning streak. They also possess the second-best road record in the NBA.

The Pelicans have dominated Memphis over the past three-plus seasons, winning eight of the last 10 games against the Grizzlies, and eight in a row in The Blender.

That stretch has to continue on Tuesday.

If it does, the Pelicans will have to do it with defense.

The Rule of 105 continues to play itself out. When the Pelicans hold opponents under 105 points, they win. They are 18-6 when doing so.

Memphis has been held under 105 points 18 times this season. In those games, they are 5-13.

When the Pels defeated the Grizzlies back in November, Memphis scored 101.

The offensive rhythm seems to be coming together, outside of the continued shooting woes of Devonté Graham, but the remainder of this season will be determined by the Pelicans ability to consistently get stops.

Tonight, they have to do that against one of the best offensive teams the league has to offer.

The question is, are they up to the challenge?

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (23-34) vs Memphis Grizzlies (40-18)

When: February 15, 2022, 7:00 p.m.

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, NBA League Pass

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @DMGrubb.