Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs New Orleans Hornets
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, LA
Records: Memphis Grizzlies ( ), New Orleans Hornets (17-42)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley, Quincy Pondexter, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
New Orleans Hornets – Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jason Smith, Chris Kaman
Memphis travels to New Orleans for the second and final time this season. The Grizzlies have won both previous meetings. The two teams conclude their season series Wednesday night at the Grindhouse.
Memphis is in a must win the situation to try to catch the LA Clippers for 4th place in the Western Conference. However, with the wins against Utah and Phoenix the need to win to make sure they are in the playoffs is not so severe. Now the Memphis fans find out if the team has the heart, grit and grind this season to go that extra step and win home court advantage in the playoffs. Defeating the New Orleans Hornets will go a long way toward making that statement.
New Orleans is playing their best basketball of the season having won 3 of their last 4 games with the only loss a 2 point setback to the Lakers. Despite their record the Hornets have been incredibly competitive this season with 39 of their 58 games decided by 10 points or less. Friday night the Hornets beat Utah 96-85. In other words, they beat Utah by twice as many points as the Grizzlies did the next night.
Over the last five games New Orleans is shooting 49.5% from the field and 45.8% from the arc. However it is defense where the Hornets hang their hats. The Hornets have held 10 of their last 12 opponents to under 100 points. Over this span opponents have averaged only 91 points a game on 44% FG shooting. New Orleans is starting to find their offense and has always been a solid defensive team. With the ownership issue behind the team (as well as any threat of the team moving) they can finally focus on basketball for the first time this season.
Former Memphis Grizzlies guard Greivis Vasquez has been on fire during that streak recording double-doubles in three of the past five games and is averaging 13.4 ppg, 7.4 apg and 3.8 rpg during that span. Vasquez was traded for Quincy Pondexter at the start of the season. In New Orleans Vasquez has developed into a solid contributor averaging 12.2 ppg, 6.7 apg and hitting 42.2% from beyond that arc.
Joining Vasquez has been Jason Smith, Chris Kaman and recently returned SG Eric Gordon. Marco Belinelli is having his best season as a professional and with the increased paint production from Kaman and Smith has become the dangerous perimeter shooter that was projected of him coming over from Italy. At small forward the Hornets are about as young as they come with Aminu and former Grizzlies lottery pick Xavier Henry representing the two youngest players in the league this season.
Prediction: Memphis guts out another hard win in their hunt for home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
Opposing Team Blogs: