After a slow start, the Memphis Grizzlies are starting to resemble the group that set a franchise record for victories last season.
Memphis looks to continue its turnaround and extend its season-high winning streak to six games as it visits the league-worst New Orleans Hornets.
After going a club-record 50-32 last season, the Grizzlies were just 5-11 on Dec. 2 when Mike Fratello replaced retired coach Hubie Brown, who stepped down for undisclosed health reasons.
Under Fratello, the Grizzlies have gone 12-6, including a 101-79 victory over the defending NBA champion Detroit Pistons on Thursday night, to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season.
Bonzi Wells scored 23 points to pace the Grizzlies, who extended their winning streak to five and handed the Pistons their most lopsided loss since a 108-76 defeat at San Antonio on Jan. 25, 2003.
“They’ve got a championship, so I guess they can take a night off,” Wells said. “We don’t have a championship, so we’re hungry. We were just more aggressive.”
Pau Gasol scored just 12 points after averaging in the previous four games, but his teammates picked up the slack. Mike Miller scored 17 points, Shane Battier had 12, Stromile Swift added 11 and Lorenzen Wright 10.
New Orleans dropped its ninth straight game Wednesday, falling to Chicago 95-89. The Hornets erased a 14-point deficit in the second half, but trailed 75-64 after the end of the third quarter.
“It was fool’s gold,” said Hornets guard Baron Davis, who finished with a game-high 21 points. “We fought so hard to get back in the game. A lack of concentration and focus came back to haunt us at the end.”
The Hornets are 0-25 this season when trailing at the start of the fourth quarter.