After three quarters, CJ McCollum was sitting on a line of 32 points, six rebounds, 11 assists and five threes.
Good, right? Yet the Pelicans trailed the Grizzlies by a ludicrous 112-84 margin.
New Orleans ultimately went on to fall 132-111 to Memphis.
“We could have been better everywhere,” Willie Green said in postgame. “We have to have more resistance than we did tonight. Once again, I take full ownership in that. We have to be better.”
In hindsight, this contest was over shortly after it had begun. Missing Brandon Ingram, who was out with right hamstring soreness, hurt, but similar to their previous matchup, Memphis came out and dominated every facet of the game, taking a 77-58 lead into halftime.
The statistics showed clear evidence of the disparity through the first 24 minutes of action. The Grizzlies were the far more assertive team in points in the paint (28-18), fast break points (23-10) and second chance points (14-6). They also scored nine more points from the 3-point line and had eight more makes from the free throw line than the Pelicans.
The Pelicans didn’t roll over, at least not until they were pummeled into near submission in the third quarter. They fought particularly hard for much of the first half.
Late in the first frame, one of Devonte’ Graham’s four straight 3-pointers to begin his night reduced New Orleans’ deficit to 39-33. This after Memphis had jumped out of the gates to grab a commanding 29-10 lead.
Following the Grizzlies building another double digit lead in the second quarter, a McCollum baseline jumper brought the Pels to within six again at 53-47.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill after that. New Orleans’ reserves exclusively played all the minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We’ll get back to the gym sometime tomorrow afternoon, watch some tape and look at the things we can be better at, but we’re not flushing it.” Green said. “We can’t flush that. That’s not us. And yeah, I get it, we haven’t had games like that, but I’m just disappointed in getting the team ready and I’m disappointed with our performance tonight.”
Next to McCollum’s 32 points, Willy Hernangomez had the strongest showing, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds. Naji Marshall added 16 points and Graham tallied 12 in the lopsided loss.
Ja Morant led the balanced Memphis attack with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado enjoyed very little success in slowing down the young superstar. Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. each scored 22 points.
The Pelicans have no time to lick any wounds as they’ll start a 4-game home stand in less than 24 hours. New Orleans will welcome the Orlando Magic first, with matchups agains the Hornets, Rockets and Suns to follow.
With or without Ingram, the Pelicans should be able to find the win column — and hopefully regularly again — very soon.