The New Orleans Hornets needed a come-from-behind performance in their last game to extend their second-longest winning streak of the season. They’ll look to take control from the start against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Hornets will try for a sixth consecutive win when they host the Southwest Division rival Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
New Orleans (26-16) fell behind by as many as 12 points in the second half Monday but still defeated Toronto after clamping down on defense.
Coach Monty Williams’ team shot 39.1 percent from the floor - its third-lowest mark of the season - but held the Raptors to 16 points over the final 12 minutes of an 85-81 win.
“This was a big win for us because this is a game we could have very well lost and we would have felt bad about it,” Williams said. “We’ve shown we can come back. It’s not always the way you draw it up. We have character guys who show up and they’re not going to panic.”
The Hornets, who lead the NBA in scoring defense with an average of 91.9 points allowed, have surrendered 88.6 during their five-game run - their longest winning streak since starting the season 8-0. They’re 15-1 at home when allowing fewer than 100 points.
While defense continues to be the catalyst for New Orleans’ impressive play, David West(notes) - the team leader with 19.0 points per game - has stepped up offensively, averaging 26.0 points over his last three contests.
“The biggest thing for us is to try to close the door when we’ve got an opportunity to win,” said West. “We’ve just got to be willing to step up and make plays, down one, up one, whatever it is.”
Since the 2005-06 season, the Hornets are 9-1 against Memphis when West scores at least 20 points.
In contrast, Chris Paul(notes), who continues to play through an ankle injury, struggled versus the Raptors, making a season-worst 1 of 8 from the field with a season low-tying six points. However, Paul could bounce back against the Grizzlies, against whom he’s topped 30 points in three of the last eight meetings, including a career high-tying 43 in a 118-116 overtime win Dec. 7, 2007.
New Orleans had taken 10 of 11 from the Grizzlies (19-22) prior to losing the last two meetings, both last season.
Memphis is also coming off its third-worst shooting performance of 2010-11 (37.7 percent), but unlike the Hornets, it couldn’t overcome its offensive woes and fell 96-84 to Chicago on Monday.
“We weren’t making the extra passes. We were settling for too many jump shots,” said point guard Mike Conley(notes). “It affects the rest of the team when we’re not making the right plays and hitting the right guy.”
The Grizzlies went 1 of 7 from 3-point range and are shooting just 18.9 percent from long distance in their last five games. Their struggles could continue against New Orleans, which is holding opponents to 33.4 percent from beyond the arc - among the best in the NBA.
Memphis’ Zach Randolph(notes) recorded 21 points and 13 rebounds Monday for his seventh consecutive double-double. He had registered eight straight double-doubles against the Hornets while averaging 24.5 points and 12.1 rebounds before being held to six and six, respectively, in the last matchup.
The Grizzlies still won 107-96 at home on April 2. Their 104-100 win at New Orleans on March 3 - a game Paul missed - snapped a nine-game road losing streak to the Hornets.