The New Orleans Pelicans bounced back from their lowest-scoring game of the season to beat the Houston Rockets 119-106 on Saturday night.
Now the Memphis Grizzlies will try to bounce back from their lowest-scoring game of the year when they visit the Pelicans on Tuesday night.
The Pelicans, who scored just 95 points in an 11-point loss to Portland on Thursday, were much better offensively against the struggling Rockets.
But along the way they saw an 18-point third-quarter lead turn into an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit before they finished strong.
The Pelicans are one game above .500 as they experience ups and downs, but they’re satisfied with where they are overall.
“We let our foot off the gas,” coach Willie Green said of his team suddenly finding itself down 98-90 with nine minutes to play against Houston. “I like where our team is right now. We’ve got to work through some things and in order to be the team we think we can be, we are going to have some hard games.”
Guard CJ McCollum, New Orleans’ third-leading scorer, has had some hard games shooting the ball of late. In the last four games he has shot 27.3 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent on 3-pointers.
“I don’t think I can shoot any worse than I’ve been shooting,” McCollum said. “You look at my career, how I’ve played, how I’ve shot. I think I’m due for some leveling out on open shots. I think I’ve gotten some good looks the past couple games, some makeable shots. I just didn’t make them.”
Green is still sorting out his rotation as he incorporates leading scorer Zion Williamson, who missed all of last season because of foot surgery.
If Memphis’ Ja Morant, who was drafted No. 2 after New Orleans made Williamson the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, plays Tuesday, it will be the first meeting between the two young stars in two seasons.
Morant did not play in a 102-92 loss at Washington on Saturday because of ankle soreness, nor did Desmond Bane (toe soreness).
The Grizzlies are 0-3 when Morant or Bane doesn’t play. They’re 9-2 when they both play.
“I’m proud of the way the guys fought,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said of the short-handed effort against Washington. “The Wizards always had an answer for everything we had.”
A lot of Washington’s answers came from beyond the arc. The Wizards made a season-high 19 3-pointers on 40 attempts. The Grizzlies couldn’t keep up, making 9 of 28.
In the absence of Memphis’ two leading scorers, who average a combined 53.5 points per game, third-leading scorer Dillon Brooks led the way with 19 points and former Pelican Steven Adams added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Grizzlies’ season-low point total marked just the second time this season that they have scored fewer than 100 points.
Memphis is concluding a brief two-game road trip and New Orleans is playing the third game of a six-game homestand.
–Field Level Media