The shooting at the beginning of the game was as frigid as the Memphis air. Both teams combined to hit just two of their first 14 shots. The pace picked up midway through the period and the Hornets hit three straight 3-pointers to flip the momentum of the game. A Malik Monk driving layup was answered by Omri Casspi’s layup in the waning seconds to set the first quarter score at 23-22.
The Hornets started the second quarter much better than they did the first. They opened the frame with a 7-2 spurt to force a Grizzlies timeout. Tony Parker left the game a couple minutes into the second period with an injury. Another run by the Hornets forced another J.B. Bickerstaff timeout with his team now trailing by 14 points. A Marc Gasol floater cut the Hornets lead to three, but Nicolas Batum answered with an emphatic dunk to jump start a Hornets retaliatory run. A couple Grizzlies baskets cut the Hornets lead to 58-54 heading into the half.
The Hornets scored the first 11 points in the second half to get the ball rolling. Nicolas Batum continued the aggressive play he showed in the first half. He scored 10 points in the third quarter and played a key role in building up the Hornets second half lead. The Grizzlies went on a mini-run after rookie guard Jevon Carter checked into the game to pull closer. After three, the Hornets led 86-76.
The teams traded baskets for the first few minutes of the final quarter and it quickly transitioned into the Mike Conley/Kemba Walker show. Between 9:38 and 4:07 remaining in the fourth quarter, the dueling point guards each scored 12 points.
It was a solid performance from the Hornets from top to bottom outside the first couple minutes of the game. Whenever the Grizzlies made a push, the Hornets answered with a run. We got aggressive Batum tonight, which is always nice to see. Walker was quiet for the majority of the game, but answered the call when Conley tried to take over the game. Tony Parker also chipped in a big night, scoring 17 points off the bench despite briefly leaving the game with an injury. He, Willy Hernangomez, Miles Bridges, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all had big plus-minus numbers off the pine.
Up next is a visit to Milwaukee to take on the owners of the league’s best record.