Feisty Grizzlies almost pull off epic comeback against Pelicans but fall short, 96-87

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Despite being competitive in most games during their current 8-game losing streak, the Memphis Grizzlies were looking to turn the tide against the New Orleans Pelicans. However, the Pelicans held on to defeat the Grizzlies 96-87, marking Memphis’ ninth consecutive loss and bringing their record to 18-36.

The Grizzlies started offensively strong, leading 20-12 with 3:15 left in the first quarter. But the Pelicans responded with a 19-6 run, ending the quarter ahead 31-26, capitalizing on unforced turnovers by Memphis. The Pelicans continued their dominance in the second quarter, extending their lead to 61-47 by halftime.

The third quarter saw the Grizzlies trailing by as much as 25 points, but Lamar Stevens and Yuta Watanabe, both recent acquisitions, sparked a comeback. Stevens scored 10 points, starting 4 for 4 from the field, and Watanabe, after a slow start, contributed 11 points.

“We had a different level of urgency,” Grizzlies Coach Taylor Jenkins said of the late surge. “We were clamping down on the defensive side. We gave up only 35 points in the second half and that sparked our offense. The guys were fighting.”

Despite cutting the deficit to 90-85 with 3:07 left in the game, the Grizzlies couldn’t close the gap further. The Pelicans, currently fifth in the Western Conference, were led by Herbert Jones with 17 points, while Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson also contributed significantly.

GG Jackson missed the game due to violations of team rules, but Jaren Jackson Jr. led the Grizzlies with 22 points and 6 rebounds. Vince Williams Jr. and Luke Kennard each added 12 points. The Grizzlies struggled on the boards, getting out-rebounded 49-37.

NOTES:

Just before the game, Vince Williams Jr. was selected by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to participate in the 2024 Panini Rising Stars Game during All-Star Weekend this week.

“Huge congratulations to Vince. It is an unbelievable recognition,” Jenkins said. “His reaction right before the game, he is super humble. He just had that smile on his face. Guys were giving him hugs. He was just ready to go out there and compete tonight.

It’s quite a come-up for Williams, who has progressed through a G-League stint with the Memphis Hustle, a two-way contract, and the recent signing to a full NBA contract. Now he’s headed to All-Star Weekend.

“It is a great honor. It feels good, but I know I have to keep my head down and keep working,” Williams said. “I just play for the guys. The outcome will be my outcome.”

The Grizzlies’ next game is against the Houston Rockets on February 14, followed by the All-Star Break.