Pelicans beat rival Grizzlies at home without Zion; McCollum scores 30
C.J. McCollum got his groove back and rookie Dyson Daniels impresses on defense
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Since being drafted at No. 1 and No. 2 in 2019, injuries between both Zion Williamson and Ja Morant have caused the stars from Southwest Division rival teams to only face off against each other in four meetings.
However, the rivalry between the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies is growing and Tuesday (Nov. 15) night’s game was no disappointment.
In what was mostly a back-and-forth affair, the Pelicans surged in the final quarter to get a 113-102 win and improve to 8-6 against one of the better teams in the NBA. While the Pelicans were without one of their stars in Zion, Desmond Bane was also out for the Grizzlies with a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
Zion isn’t expected to miss much time with foot swelling as he was listed as “day-to-day”. He’s expected to be a game-time decision for Wednesday (Nov. 16) night’s home matchup with Chicago.
Hovering right above .500, the Pelicans’ biggest issues as of late have been defense and chemistry within the right rotations. The Pelicans were on the same page Tuesday night and starting guard C.J. McCollum found his shot again. McCollum scored 30 points and dished out 9 assists while five other Pelicans scored in double figures.
McCollum had been on an offensive slump, shooting just 27 percent over the previous four games. But everything was working for him in the win over Memphis.
“We moved the ball well,” McCollum said postgame. “I tried to make sure that I was passing early in the game. Especially in the first quarter, early easy passes hit the pocket, tried to get the ball into the paint, get it to the weak side, find guys and hopefully it becomes contagious.”
For the other side, Ja Morant scored 36 and grabbed 8 boards for Memphis. His gaudy numbers have been something the NBA has gotten used to in recent years, but when it mattered most, Morant was disrupted by the defensive hustle of Jose Alvarado and rookie Dyson Daniels, who continues to impress when given opportunities.
“He’s a tough cover,” said Pelicans coach Willie Green on Morant. “He attacks you. He gets to his left hand. He can shoot the floater. He can shoot the three-ball. I thought it was important to try to keep him off the foul line going into the fourth quarter.”
While they started the third quarter slowly, the Pelicans finished it strong, taking an 89-87 lead before the fourth, carrying over into the final period to open it with a 15-4 run. In those moments, McCollum hit 3 shots from beyond the arc, Alvarado scored five points, and Larry Nance Jr. responded to a Morant dunk by slamming one down on the very next play.
The game ended with the guy who mattered most, McCollum, dropping a floater in the lane with just over a minute left in the game to cushion the Pelicans’ lead at 113-102.
Brandon Ingram scored 19 points for the Pelicans in the win.
The Pelicans host the Bulls Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Smoothie Center and will continue their homestand on Friday, hosting the Boston Celtics.
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