NBA: Pelicans deal Grizzlies their ninth consecutive defeat

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) shoots ahead of Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Herbert Jones scored 17 points and Brandon Ingram finished with 16 points including a pair of late buckets as the New Orleans Pelicans held on to defeat Memphis 96-87 on Monday night, sending the Grizzlies to their ninth straight loss in the NBA.

Zion Williamson finished with 14 points and CJ McCollum added 11 as the Pelicans won their second straight. Jones had nine rebounds as New Orleans outrebounded Memphis 49-37.

“They fought us for 48 minutes,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said of the Grizzlies and their depleted roster. “We didn’t start well, then we got it going. Came out in the third quarter and we’re playing well, then the wheels fell off.”

While the Pelicans struggled shooting in the fourth, Memphis never could overtake the New Orleans advantage. But things got a bit shaky with three minutes left as the Grizzlies pulled within five a couple of times.

“We just went back to relying on our defense,” Jones said of the fourth quarter. “Continued to play hard. We knew it’s still an NBA team. Still NBA guys. We knew they were going to play hard. We just had to sustain the push.”

Jaren Jackson Jr. led the Grizzlies with 22 points, while Vince Williams Jr. and Luke Kennard finished with 12 points apiece. Williams also added nine assists. Yuta Watanabe had 11 points, keying a fourth-quarter Memphis push.

Watanabe was a trade deadline pickup for Memphis. The small forward had started his career with the Grizzlies after going undrafted in 2018. He had a trio of baskets early in the fourth as Memphis cut into the Pelicans’ advantage.

“Yuta’s great. I’m glad he’s back,” Jackson said. “I know how hard he plays. I know his feel for the game is great. … I’m just glad he’s here.”

A 14-point New Orleans lead at halftime stretched to 25 in the third period. The Pelicans, with basically their full complement of players, seemed to have too much offensive firepower for the makeshift Grizzlies to keep pace.

But spanning the third and fourth quarters, Memphis crafted a 25-7 rally to make the game a bit tighter midway through the fourth as New Orleans’ lead had dropped to seven points. Memphis eventually got within 90-85 with three minutes left as the Pelicans were 1 of 12 from the field in the quarter at that point.

“We found a way at the end to win the game, and that’s the important part,” Green said.

On Monday, the Pelicans learned Dyson Daniels suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee that will keep him out of action an extended period — a significant loss to New Orleans’ bench production. But the reserves helped turn a close game into a double-digit lead in the first. A 21-8 run to close the latter half of the second gave New Orleans a 61-47 lead at the break.

As Memphis continues to limp through the remainder of the season with a skeleton crew, a number of players are getting a chance to showcase their talents; players like Watanabe and Lamar Stevens, also a trade-deadline swap with the Boston Celtics. He finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

“I was really impressed with those guys,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said of his lineup, adding: “Those guys gave us a huge spark, and the second half was great.”



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NEXT SCHEDULE

Pelicans: Host the Wizards on Wednesday.

Grizzlies: Host the Rockets on Wednesday.





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