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GAME: Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Hornets
Time: 7:00 pm CST
PLACE: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (4-6), New Orleans (3-8)

Expected Starting Lineups:

Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Dante Cunningham, Marc Gasol
New Orleans – Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, DaJuan Summers, Chris Kaman, Emeka Okafor

Preview:

It’s revenge time ladies and gents. That’s right — it is the return of Greivis Vasquez and Xavier Henry to the Grindhouse. Ok, ok, so maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but it is worth noting that these two teams have hooked up on multiple trades, not only this year, but in years past. Also, as divisional foes, they are very familiar with one another. That’s highlighted by the fact that these same two teams will hook up again in just a few days (1/18) down in the Big Easy.

Memphis is riding a high after dismantling the Knicks on Thursday night on TNT (their first nationally televised game of the season). Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo got on track in the same game and the results were predictable: an easy win for the Grizzlies. And it wasn’t just their scoring either. Lionel Hollins had this to say after the game: “I just told Rudy Gay, `That’s the best I’ve seen you play overall.’ Forget making shots. The last time we were in here, people asked about his play and he didn’t make shots, so you thought he played poorly. The shots notwithstanding, it was his defense, his rebounding and his passing. He was just doing everything you could ask him to do, especially with someone with that kind of versatile talent.”  Well said, L-Train.

Marc Gasol chipped in with a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) and some solid defense on the Knicks frontcourt, frequently frustrating Amar’e Stoudamire into making poor decisions and rendering Tyson Chandler into nothing more than an occasional rebounder. Tony Allen was a whirling dervish, Marreese Speights was a solid rebounder despite not hitting a field goal, and Mike Conley helped make Iman Shumpert look like an overmatched rookie.

Since winning their first two games of the season, the Hornets have struggled mightily, losing 8 of their next 9. While adjusting to having so many new faces on the roster after the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Clippers is undoubtedly one area that has led to this, the knee injury to Eric Gordon is unquestionably just as big of a concern.

I think this quote sums their issues up pretty succinctly:

“We’re looking for a lineup that can click a little bit.”  —Hornets coach Monty Williams.

For Memphis to win, they will need to be ball-hawks on defense, making the Hornets pay dearly for sloppy play or careless ballhandling. On offense, they need to continue to make things easy for Rudy, O.J. and Marc and to get out in transition whenever possible.

For New Orleans to win, they have to hit enough outside shots to keep the defense honest (only Carldell “Squeaky” Johnson is shooting higher than 38% from deep) and crash the boards (ranked in the top 6 in all rebounding categories) relentlessly for second-chance opportunities. On defense, they need to keep Marc Gasol from getting low-post position and hope that the Rudy/O.J. combo aren’t clicking again.

Prediction:  Grizzlies in a semi-comfortable win

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