The Memphis Grizzlies went 10-6 within what was arguably the toughest division in basketball a season ago.
They’ll try to avoid falling to 0-3 against their fellow Southwest Division foes Wednesday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Southwest was the only division last season to have four teams at .500 or better, sending three to the postseason and producing both Western Conference finalists.
The Grizzlies (2-2) already have division losses to Dallas and San Antonio - both on the road - but bounced back from Saturday’s 111-99 loss to the Mavericks on Monday with a 95-88 win over Boston.
Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and reserve Jerryd Bayless each scored 15 to lead the Grizzlies, who trailed by six heading into the fourth quarter. Bayless scored all of his points in the final period on 6-of-7 shooting after missing his first four shots of the game.
“I kept looking at my staff saying: ‘When should I put Mike Conley in?’” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “And then Jerryd Bayless kept making buckets, and I would be silly if I took Jerryd Bayless out of the game.”
Conley is averaging 18.8 points after turning in a career-high 14.6 last year. He’s cracked 20 in each of his last two games against New Orleans.
The Pelicans (1-3) have hit 28 of 54 attempts from 3-point range (51.9 percent), but they’re connecting on just 39.6 percent from inside the arc this year. They’ve been the best outside shooting team in the league despite being without top 3-point shooter Ryan Anderson, who has missed the start of the season with a chipped bone in his toe.
A 10-of-18 night from 3-point range wasn’t enough in Tuesday’s 104-98 home loss to Phoenix.
The Pelicans jumped out to a 28-17 lead after 12 minutes and led by 10 in the third quarter, but the Suns hit 12 of 13 shots and six 3-pointers in a row to pull ahead.
“We had a good first quarter, but after that we went away from the things that are necessary for us to be good,” coach Monty Williams said. ”The second half was just totally not the way we play in practice.”
Eric Gordon scored a team-high 20 points while Jrue Holiday was held to three points on 1-of-7 shooting. He’s 6 of 20 with 17 points in his last two games after averaging 20.5 in the first two.
New Orleans has been getting some solid interior play from Anthony Davis, but the second-year forward went 5 for 14 against the Suns and has now shot at or under 40 percent in three of four games.
He’s averaging 22.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.25 blocks per game and is 26 of 28 from the foul line.
These teams split four games in 2012-13, with New Orleans taking the last meeting 90-83 on March 22 behind Davis’ 18 points and 15 rebounds.