Notes: Tonight's Hornets/Grizzlies Matchup
The Memphis Grizzlies (13-3) meet the Hornets (5-12) tonight at the New Orleans Arena at 7 p.m. The Grizzlies are currently first place in the Western Conference, despite having one of the most difficult schedules in the league so far. The Heat, Thunder, and Knicks have all fallen to Memphis.
One of the keys to the Grizzlies’ success is their defense. They employ a “grit and grind” method that has led the NBA in steals and forced turnovers for two years straight. The face of the Grizzlies’ defense is Tony Allen. Allen has been voted the best perimeter defender for two consecutive years in the General Manager poll.
Memphis also benefits from roster continuity. They extended and resigned contracts for Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The team has had the same starting line-up for two years in a row.
Memphis forward Rudy Gay leads his team’s offense. In the league, Gay is ranked 18th for points per game. Gay is in rare company, with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as the four players to score at east 6,900 points and 500 steals over the last five seasons.
Zach Randolph ranks third in the league for rebounds and leads the NBA in double-doubles. Marc Gasol (brother to the Lakers’ Pau) ranks second in the league in assists among non-guards.
New Orleans will need to rely on Robin Lopez’s presence in the paint. He has scored double digits in the last four games, shooting 75% from the field. Ryan Anderson contributed 31 points against the Lakers. Tonight, New Orleans needs to keep him away from Allen, and use structured offense to create opportunities.