(AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans each lost to one of the hottest teams in the NBA on Friday night.
And both have to complete a back-to-back when they meet Saturday night in New Orleans.
The Grizzlies were dominated by the Phoenix Suns, who won their seventh consecutive game, 119-94 in Memphis.
The Pelicans rallied to take a brief fourth-quarter lead before falling at home to Brooklyn, 120-112, the Nets’ seventh victory in eight games.
Memphis has been much more competitive than New Orleans this season, compiling a .500 record whereas the Pelicans have won just one game and have lost nine in a row. But New Orleans went toe-to-toe with Brooklyn while the Grizzlies were uncompetitive against the Suns.
“We need to get back to enjoying playing defense and flying around for 48 minutes,” Memphis forward Desmond Bane said. “I feel like our defense has let us down in the games we lose.”
The Grizzlies never led against Phoenix, trailed by double digits from late in the first quarter on and saw the deficit reach 38 points in the third quarter.
“We’ve got two versions of the Grizzlies,” coach Taylor Jenkins said. “The six wins, we’ve played disciplined basketball. We made shots. We do what we need to do defensively.
“And then the ones where we’ve gotten smacked, our defense hasn’t been disciplined, and we’ve missed a lot of shots.”
The Grizzlies shot just 38 percent and made just seven of 33 3-pointers.
New Orleans, which has yet to win at home, fought back from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to take a three-point lead in the fourth quarter before James Harden took over at the end for the Nets.
“I thought our competitiveness went to another level,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said of the fourth-quarter surge. “We started the game competing, had somewhat of a drop-off in the third quarter and then we just took it to another level.
“That’s how we got in the game and took the lead. We have to do that every game, and we can’t wait until we’re down 20 points.”
The Pelicans’ comeback came with young players such as third-year reserve center Jaxson Hayes and rookies Herbert Jones and Trey Murphy III on the court.
“The way we were able to play in the fourth quarter, the young guys really showed the starters how we need to play with that effort and that intensity,” said Garrett Temple, the oldest Pelican, who scored a season-high 17 points.
New Orleans committed 16 turnovers, which led to 26 Brooklyn points.
“(That’s) a few too many turnovers against this team,” Green said. “Our margin for error is really small. So we have to take care of the ball and get quality shots every time down the floor. For the most part we did that, but we’re playing against a team who offensively is one of the best in the NBA.”
New Orleans hopes that leading scorer Brandon Ingram can return from a seven-game absence due to a hip contusion. He returned to practice Thursday and participated in the shoot-around Friday before being declared out shortly before tip-off.
–Field Level Media