The Grizzlies are falling into a rather predictable formula; fall behind early against a below .500 opponent, wake up later on, and end up pulling out the victory. That’s what happened in each of their last two games, including last night’s 103-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tonight, the Grizzlies do battle against another sub-.500 opponent, the New Orleans Future Pelicans, currently still know as the Hornets. Despite their weak record, this team can be fairly scary. They amassed a 23-point lead against the Lakers on Wednesday, only to blow it in spectacular fashion, as the Lakers would score the final 20 points of the game. Clearly, this team has some talent, but they need to learn how to finish games. Which, based on the Grizzlies recent history, makes them a perfect opponent.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, Zach Randolph will likely miss his fourth straight game. Last night Ed Davis started in his place, and had a solid night, with 12 points and nine rebounds. Based on that performance, it would be hard picture Davis not getting the start tonight. After weeks of being trapped on the bench, Davis is finally getting a shot to show off his considerable skills to the Grizzlies.
Former Grizzly Greivis Vasquez will be starting at the point for New Orleans tonight. After spending his rookie season in Memphis, he was traded for Quincy Pondexter, and has taken off as a Hornet. So far this season, Vasquez is averaging 13.9 point, and 9.4 assist per game, establishing himself as one of the top passers in the league. Vasquez is not an especially strong defender, but his excellent instincts have made him extremely valuable to the Hornets this season.
The lack of Z-Bo means we won’t get enjoy watching him go against #1 overall pick Anthony Davis. Davis has had excellent season, and if he ends up losing Rookie Of The Year honors to Damian Lillard, it will have more to do with the time he missed earlier in this season than anything else. He’s already a great player, and he’ll be getting better soon. Ed Davis certainly will have a challenge defending the phenomenal young forward this evening.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have caught Eric Gordon between injuries, and Tony Allen will be given the task of shutting him down tonight. For years, there’s been talk of how amazing Gordon would be if he would just stop getting injured. This season, however, he’s been decidedly mortal in the game’s he’s played. He leads the Hornets in scoring with 16.8 points per game, but he’s shooting a mere .395. In his first four NBA seasons, Gordon never shot below .449. It could just be that Gordon hasn’t fully recovered from his injuries, but there has to be some concern that Gordon is never going to be the superstar everyone thinks he can be. He’s barely healthy, and his play has declined considerably.
Al-Farouq Aminu is one of those players you never know what to expect from. He could explode for a huge game, or be kept off the scoreboard completely. In any event, Tayshaun Prince will need to contain his explosive athleticism tonight. meanwhile, Marc Gasol goes against Robin Lopez, a quietly efficient center who has had a career year after coming from the Suns to the Hornets. Lopez’s shooting is actually fairly similar to that of twin brother Brook, but he hasn’t been able to carry the load of a team the way Brook has.
The Hornets have one of the best sixth men in the league with Ryan Anderson, who is one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the league. He teams up with backup center Jason Smith the make one of the better second unit front courts in the league. The rest of the Hornets bench is rather thin, however, as they lack a true backup point guard. Rookie 2-guard Austin Rivers has demonstrated potential as of late, but for the most part his rookie season has been dreadful, as he’s been one of the worst shooters in the league.
Even with Randolph, the Grizzlies have solid shot of winning their fourth consecutive game tonight. New Orleans has some talent, but their a young, immature team that makes a lot of mistakes and struggles to play for a full 48 minutes. If the Grizzlies take this game seriously, and give them the full brunt of their defensive firepower, they can force a lot of frustration and errors en route to yet another victory.