The Memphis Grizzlies had a fourth quarter to forget in New Orleans Sunday night as their 5-19 shooting, combined with six turnovers and a possible knee injury to Marc Gasol, punctuated an 88-75 loss to the Hornets.
The current fifth seed in the West, the Grizzlies started off just fine behind some strong bench play from O.J. Mayo and Gilbert Arenas, who combined for 12 points in a 16-3 Memphis run in the second quarter. Zach Randolph added six of his 12 rebounds during his seven-plus minute stint as well. That run gave Memphis a four-point lead to take into halftime.
The second half was a lot rougher for the Grizzlies, as the Hornets defense turned the pressure up for new owner Tom Benson, who was in attendance in the front row. The Hornets forced 14 second-half turnovers and 36-percent shooting overall from the field from Memphis as they began to take control of the game. New Orleans got strong efforts from Eric Gordon (18 points on nine shots), Jason Smith (7-13, 14 points, 10 rebounds) and Carl Landry (16 points, 11 rebounds) and outscored the Grizzlies by 19 in the second half.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Hornets had taken a six-point lead over Memphis and -- though the Grizzlies gamely tried to play through their miserable shooting night -- it got worse from there.
Memphis made one bucket over five minutes in the quarter before finally Gasol got a layup to go down. Unfortunately he banged knees with former Grizzlies teammate Xavier Henry and while he forced through the pain to take (and miss) his free throw attempt, Gasol had to leave the game with what was initially diagnosed as a hyper-extended knee.
Meanwhile the Hornets extended the lead into double-digits, out-hustling and out-executing their guests. One play typified the fourth quarter as a pass was coming up to the top of the three-point arc to Greivis Vasquez (eight points, nine assists) and was flicked away by Mike Conley (1-7, five points, three assists). It looked as if Conley was going to get the ball as it was rolling towards the Memphis basket, but Vasquez was able to get control. With les s than six seconds left to shoot, he passed the ball upcourt to Smith, who faked the shot and passed cross-court to Marco Belinelli, who was also standing alone for three. Belinelli hit the open three as the shot clock expired.
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