When you play the Memphis Grizzlies, you know what’s coming.
It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be physical. It’s a given.
But the Grizzlies hit the Pelicans with a changeup Monday night at the Smoothie King Center, blitzing New Orleans with an uncharacteristic perimeter punch that powered Memphis to a 110-95 win.
The Grizzlies, who entered the game shooting 33.5 percent from 3-point range and making 5.9 per game, hit 9-of-16, including 5-of-7 in the fourth quarter, to take command.
“It’s tough, because now you’re not just worrying Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol (inside),” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis said. “You’re worried about everybody else on the perimeter. When they have Vince (Carter) and Jeff Green and all those guys making 3s, they’re a tough team to beat. They had the whole package going tonight.”
A pair of Ryan Anderson free throws in the fourth quarter — he made a technical foul shot with 7:16 to play, then hit 1-of-2 on a trip to the line 14 seconds later — put the Pelicans in front 86-84, their first fourth-quarter lead.
It was short-lived.
The Grizzlies answered with 10 straight points — including 3-pointers from Mike Conley and Carter — and surged ahead 94-86 on Marc Gasol’s dunk with 5:20 to play.
And Memphis wasn’t finished with its 3-point barrage. Jeff Green’s triple with 3:32 to play put the Grizzlies in front 97-89, and Vince Carter made it 100-90 with a 3-pointer at the 2:49 mark to all but ice the win.
“If they’re shooting it well from the perimeter with the inside game they have, they’re a difficult team,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought the effort was still there on our part.”
Carter scored 11 of his 13 in the fourth quarter, making all four of his shots and all three of his 3-point attempts. That was part of a balanced Memphis offense that got 17 points and 10 assists from Conley, 14 points and seven rebounds from Gasol, 22 points and 12 rebounds from Randolph, and 24 points and seven rebounds from Green.
The Grizzlies shot 60.6 percent from the floor.
“No team has ever shot that high on us,” guard Norris Cole said. “Sometimes you just got to tip your hat.”
Davis had 23 points and nine rebounds for New Orleans, which got 23 points and six assists from Cole. No other Pelicans player scored in double figures, and New Orleans shot 40.9 percent from the floor.
Mostly, the Pelicans’ high-octane bench struggled.
Jrue Holiday was 1-for-14 from the floor and scored four points. Ryan Anderson had nine points on 3-for-9 shooting.
“They felt good,” Holiday said. “They just weren’t going in. That’s life.”
Despite Holiday’s and Anderson’s struggles, New Orleans — which was without starting point guard Tyreke Evans, who sat out his third straight game with tendinitis in his right knee — hung tough until the fourth quarter.
The Pelicans never trailed by more than six until the Grizzlies took command at the end, leading by as many as 18 after New Orleans took that brief lead.
“We just kind of went cold from there,” Gentry said. “We did OK, but they shot the ball extremely well. The spread the floor and actually they did a lot of the things we tried to do offensively and weren’t quite successful doing it.”
The loss dropped New Orleans to 18-29 and 5-2 to close its season-long seven-game homestand. At the end of the game, the Pelicans sat four games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with two other teams between them and that final position.
New Orleans, which started 1-11, hits the road Wednesday to take on the Spurs. They have 19 home games and 18 road games remaining.
“It was a good homestand,” Gentry said. “Could have been a great homestand with a win tonight. But it didn’t happen. Now we just got to pack up, go to San Antonio and play.”