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Anderson carries Hornets to upset win over Grizzlies

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- When Memphis Grizzlies' point guard Mike Conley turned his left ankle on Sunday afternoon in FedExForum, the game turned toward the New Orleans Hornets.

The Hornets, the worst team in the Western Conference, took full advantage of the Grizzlies' offensive disarray without their floor leader. With the Hornets' bench scoring 51 points, New Orleans started a five-game road trip recording a 91-83 victory over a previously hot Griz team coming of consecutive 20-point plus wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.

Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith came off the bench to score 22 and 16 points respectively for the Hornets (15-29), who got just their third road win over a fellow Western Conference foe of the season. The Grizzlies, fourth in the West at 28-16, lost for the first time to Hornets in their last four meetings.

"We're not going crazy over this," Hornets' coach Monty Williams vowed after the win, "because we didn't play well in games leading up to this. We had guys step up and hit shots. And with Conley out, we were able to pack the paint defensively, because they quit the pick-and-roll."

The Grizzlies' offense completely broke down in the fourth quarter, shooting just 23.8 percent from the field. New Orleans, boosted by a combined 17 points from Anderson and Smith, outscored Memphis 27-15 in the final period, including a 10-0 run that gave the Hornets a 10-point lead with 1:44 left.

Anderson's size (6-10) and three-point shooting stroke (all of his shots were threes, 7-for-13, compared to the Griz team total 3-for-16) created a matchup nightmare for the Grizzlies.

"You got a guy that big who shoots like a guard," said Griz forward Zach Randolph, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds for his NBA-leading 28th double-double. "It's a problem."

About three minutes after Conley departed the game for good in the opening quarter with the ankle sprain (he was in a walking boot after the game), Anderson got on the floor for the first time and drained three threes in the final 3:22 of the period.

After hitting his first three of the second quarter, he missed four straight threes in the period and didn't attempt a shot in the third quarter before opening the fourth swishing two threes in the period's first 70 seconds.

"Monty does a great job of drawing up plays and makes great calls against mismatches in our favor," Anderson said of the Hornets' coach. "We got in some pick-and-rolls, got my defender to go into screens and big guys don't like to go through screens."

Randolph and center Marc Gasol, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds, were basically the Grizzlies' entire offense. But by the final quarter, with the Hornets' practically conceding that the Griz couldn't make an outside shot, the Randolph-Gasol duo combined for just four points (all from Gasol).

Surrounded by New Orleans defenders as the Hornets mixed man-to-man and zone defenses, Gasol attempted just two shots and Randolph none in fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Griz backup guards Jerryd Bayless and Tony Wroten and starting forward Rudy Gay combined to shoot 2-for-14, including 0-for-5 on threes in the last period. Gay, the Grizzlies' leading scorer and highest paid player, was 3-for-17 (1-for-7 threes).

"Rudy took too many jump shots and didn't attack the basket, but it wasn't just him," Griz coach Lionel Hollins said. "We took a lot of jumpers and stopped making them. We stopped pushing the ball up the floor, got into their pace and then their big guys starting hitting threes."

It didn't even matter that the Hornets' starting five combined for just 40 points, or that point guard Greivis Vasquez suffered through a 2-for-16 shooting clunker, trying to salvage it with 11 assists.

Having played for the Grizzlies as a rookie two years ago, being tutored by Conley, he knew Memphis took a huge blow when Conley exited early with the ankle sprain.

"Mike Conley is the head of the snake," Vasquez said. "He controls all those horses. It's tough when they don't have him."

NOTES: Conley said his ankle turned after he stopped on a fastbreak. "The ankle just gave out, rolled on me, snapped quick and I felt a little pop," Conley said. "The pain was bad then, I regained some feeling as the play went on but they pulled me." Hollins said Conley is probable for Monday's game at Philadelphia. ... Ryan Anderson's seven three-pointers were the most against the Grizzlies since Toney Douglas knocked down nine for the Knicks in March 2010. ... Memphis lost for the first time this season when Marc Gasol has a double-double. Gasol had his sixth double-double of the year. ... Hornets forward Jason Smith's 16 points were two shy of his season high.
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