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Feb 11, 2024 3:40 pm

Grizzlies aim to break eight-game skid, face Pelicans

Trey Murphy

The Memphis Grizzlies lost to one of the worst teams in the NBA on Saturday night, while the New Orleans Pelicans escaped another bottom feeder in the Portland Trail Blazers.

The two Southwest Division rivals will meet Monday night in Memphis as the Grizzlies try to rebound from a 115-106 loss at Charlotte.

The Hornets, who have the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference, took advantage of a short-handed Memphis team to end a 10-game losing streak, leaving the Grizzlies’ eight-game losing streak as the longest in the league.

The Pelicans bounced back from a 139-122 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles one night earlier and defeated the host Portland Trail Blazers, who have the second-worst record in the West, 93-84.

“One night was a scoring frenzy and (Saturday) was like a defensive grind type of game,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “We did a good job defensively contesting shots, keeping them out of our paint, rebounding the ball. When we come with that type of mindset, we give ourselves a chance to win games.”

The Pelicans are finishing a stretch of eight road games in nine with a chance to finish 6-3 and complete this road trip with a 3-1 record if they beat Memphis.

New Orleans is 16-12 on the road, having already won one more game away from home than it did all of last season.

Green said his team was “mentally tough” in winning the second half of the back-to-back. Trey Murphy III replaced Zion Williamson (foot contusion) in the starting lineup and scored 24 points, his first 20-point game since Dec. 21.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Murphy said. “I’ve been struggling a little bit. I know that. I’ve been trying to be better. Hopefully, it’s the start of something new.”

Williamson is listed as questionable for Monday’s game.

Portland was missing seven players due to injury, including leading scorer Anfernee Simons, as it lost its fourth consecutive game.

The Grizzlies also were missing seven injured players in their loss to the Hornets. Two players acquired at Thursday’s trading deadline — wing Lamar Stevens and forward Yuta Watanabe — did not play. It’s unclear if they will be available Monday.

“I think our guys are competing,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “These guys want it so bad. They work so hard for it and that’s exactly what we’re going to do (going forward).”

The Grizzlies will continue to play without All-Star guard Ja Morant, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last month, as well as Desmond Bane (ankle) and Marcus Smart (finger), both of whom will be re-evaluated sometime after the All-Star break.

“We care deeply about every single game that we play and that’s going to remain the rest of the season,” general manager Zach Kleiman said.

Memphis can win the season series with a victory Monday night. The Pelicans beat them 111-104 in the season opener for both teams Oct. 25 in Memphis, but the Grizzlies won both meetings in New Orleans — prevailing in Morant’s first game after serving a 25-game suspension, 115-113, on Dec. 19 and again seven days later, 116-115 in overtime.

–Field Level Media

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