NEW ORLEANS (AP) – JaMychal Green‘s move to a reserve role since coming back from his broken jaw seems to suit the Memphis forward.
Green scored six of his season-high 24 points during a late comeback and the Grizzlies beat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-103 on Friday night.
The fourth-year pro out of Alabama has posted season highs in points in consecutive games, having scored 19 in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
“Yeah, I’m getting in a groove. I’m starting to get my legs back and get into a rhythm,” said Green, who started the first two games before his injury.
He said the transition to coming off the bench “wasn’t hard at all.”
“Coach (J.B. Bickerstaff) and I had a talk and he told me I was still going to get my minutes, so I was cool with that,” Green said.
Kyle Anderson scored 19 points, including a key free throw for a four-point lead in the final seconds for the Grizzlies, who whittled away at an eight-point deficit during the final five minutes to send New Orleans to its fourth loss in 14 home games.
During that pivotal stretch, Green hit a jumper, sank two free throws and dunked to tied it at 101 with 2:35 left. Memphis finished with 53-11 advantage in bench points, and Green was a big reason why.
“He made some big plays for us in a very timely manner,” Anderson said. “I know he’s a selfless guy and he’s a guy that just wants to play to win. It really shows in his character, accepting a role to come off the bench.”
Julius Randle had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Anthony Davis added 25 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, and Jrue Holiday had 20 points and 11 assists for the Pelicans. But New Orleans was done in by poor 3-point shooting (7 of 29), 18 turnovers that led to 26 Memphis points and some crucial missed free throws down the stretch.
“If you make some of those (3-pointers) at certain times in the game, we open up the game and I think it’d be a different story,” Holiday said.
New Orleans missed only four of 24 free throws, but three of those misses came in the final 4:11, with Holiday missing one and Randle two. The Pelicans did not hit field goal during the final five minutes. Davis and E’Twaun Moore both missed 3-point shots in the final 15 seconds that would have tied it.
“You’ve got to finish games. You know, I mean that’s just the bottom line. It’s not really complicated. It’s a simple thing,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We competed at a real high level, but not only do you have to compete, you have to execute down the stretch.”
The game was competitive throughout, with 10 ties and 18 lead changes. Neither team built a double-digit lead.
Grizzlies: Marc Gasol had 15 points. … Joakim Noah added 13 points in his second game since signing with the Grizzlies. … Mike Conley handed out 10 assists. … Memphis improved to 7-6 on the road. … The Grizzlies, who led by a single point heading into the final period, improved to 11-2 when leading after three quarters. … Conley, guarded primarily by Holiday, was held to nine points after scoring between 20 and 37 points in each of his last five games.
Pelicans: F Nikola Mirotic returned from an illness that sidelined him for two games. Although he has started most of this season, he came off the bench against Memphis, playing 20 minutes and scoring only four points on 1-of-6 shooting. …… Guard Tim Frazier sank a half-court heave as time expired in the third quarter, cutting Memphis’ lead to 85-84.
Solomon Hill scored a season-high 14 points for New Orleans, hitting four of six 3-point attempts. His previous season high was six points in three different games and he had not scored more than 13 since April 4, 2017. But Hill was in no mood to discuss his scoring.
“I’ve got to make the stops on defense. That’s why I’m here,” Hill said. “We have enough firepower to score.”
The Pelicans missed their final eight shots from the field, with six misses coming from 3-point range.
Anderson said Memphis’ defense had a lot to do with New Orleans’ lower-percentage perimeter shots.
“Credit our guys for digging deep and getting some stops, making them take tough shots and rebounding,” Anderson said.
Grizzlies: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Visit Detroit on Sunday.