Both the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies walked into the Fedex Forum one game out of .500. After a close first half, the Grizzlies took control of the game with a 31 point third quarter and took home the win 130-114. Though the offense clicked for most of the game, it was the bend don’t break defense that ultimately spelled the end of the Hornets winning streak.
However, The Memphis Grizzlies were not ready for Terry Rozier to begin the game. Terry led the team in points, rebounds, and assists in the first quarter. Ja Morant’s first basket came eight minutes into the game, but the home team Grizz found their stride later in the quarter , led by Grayson Allen’s three point barrage,ending the first down 34-38. Eric Collins dropped this piece of audio gold; “You know Miles, he’s tougher than walrus grissle.” I call Walrus Gristle as a gamer tag, please respect the dibs.
The Ball and Bridges show continued its performance, as they, again, connected from across court. However, what was notable was the evolving chemistry of the Ball to PJ pick and roll. They both found room to maneuver in that set and the more success they had, the more open the other one was. Half court offense has not been as successful as the transition game so it was interesting to see the team finding ways to score with set plays.
Cody Zeller has been more aggressive as of late with taking the ball to the rim. He continued this renewed ability to play offense against Memphis. Cody ended the night with nine points and did not make a major impact in the game. He has a whipping tear drop shot that some might call a floater and, although there is an arc, it seems to stop mid air and drop like a cartoon anvil. The shot makes sense because Cody Zeller is the Wylie Coyote of the Charlotte Hornets. However, on the other end, Jonas Valanciunas out worked him, out hustled him, just outplayed him at the center position. Jonas ended with 12 points and 15 rebounds and was key to the Grizzlies win. So... you know… you hate to see it.
While the Hornets were having success with the pick and roll on the offensive side, the Memphis Grizzlies were making it rain beyond the arc. The open three has been a common sight when watching the hybrid zone defense the Hornets often play. The Grizzlies hit thirteen three pointers in the first half on a 46% clip. But the story of the first half was Terry Rozier, 24 points, only one missed shot, and the buzzer beater going into halftime.
Slo-Mo Kyle Anderson equaled his career mark for three pointers in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Bizmack Biyombo had a turnover in his first 6 seconds of play well into the second half. Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks, and noted Batman villain Desmond Bane continued to pummel the Hornets defense with threes. Turns out that Xavier Tillman being overlooked in the 2020 draft is an issue. The Grizzlies dominated the boards no matter what Hornet occupied the paint. The Grizz held a double digit lead for most of the third quarter leading by eighteen going into the fourth.
The Ref’s must be grillmasters because there was some Memphis BBQ homecooking being served up with the foul calls. Two baskets were negated by reversed foul calls starting in the third and continuing into the fourth quarter; add on a couple more calls that gave up possession to the home team. Gordon Hayward had three point play turned into ball side out by a phantom call… but I’m not one to complain.
In any event, the Hornets deserved to lose this game and the devil is in the defense. Not only did the Memphis Grizzlies hit MJ’s number from beyond the arc, 23 treys being a franchise high, But even when the Grizz did miss they usually got the rebound. They ended the game with 26 second chance points and 19 offensive rebounds. No Hornet had energy on defense and the game was lopsided as a result.
The Hornets were still competitive on the offensive side. Terry Rozier had another great game in a loss, 34 points in 33 minutes. The Hornets were better from the field and the three point line percentage-wise than Memphis. But when it rains it pours and the Grizzlies were pouring in jump shots all night. The Grizzlies get to .500 on the season and the Hornets slip to a 12-14 no man’s land. Coming off a loss there’s no better sight than the Minnesota Timberwolves, who the Hornets will play in the Spectrum Center on Friday, February 12th 7p.m. EST. Until then, please remember the phrase, “tougher than walrus gristle.”
Eric Collins, you are the real M.V.P.