MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 24 points, Zion Williamson added 23 points and seven rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 111-104 on Wednesday night in the season-opener for both teams.
McCollum was 8 of 16 from the field including 6 of 11 from outside the arc. Williamson scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter to avoid any comeback by Memphis. Brandon Ingram finished with 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Desmond Bane led Memphis with 31 points, while Marcus Smart had 17 points. Xavier Tillman matched Smart’s 17 points and added 12 rebounds.
The game was the first of the 25-game suspension for Grizzles guard Ja Morant, the team’s leading scorer last season. He is scheduled to finish the suspension in December. His absence, along with several injuries across the Memphis frontline had the Grizzlies at a disadvantage.
That left Memphis playing small-ball lineups in much of the game.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans are starting the season with key people healthy, particularly Ingram and Williamson, who missed significant parts of last season. That led to a 52-37 New Orleans advantage in the boards.
New Orleans led 57-47 at halftime, after holding the Grizzlies to 36% shooting. The lead built in the third quarter as the Pelicans benefited from Memphis mistakes and continued poor shooting.
The New Orleans advantage dwindled to 90-81 early in the fourth, but seven straight points took the Pelicans lead back to 16, its largest in the game at the time.