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Grizzlies-Hornets Preview

AP - Sports

Strong starts helped the Memphis Grizzlies close their homestand with three straight wins. Now they'll look to maintain that intensity on the road.

The Grizzlies visit the struggling New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night in the teams' second meeting in five nights.

After losing the opener of its four-game homestand to Oklahoma City, Memphis bounced back with three straight victories, building double-digit leads in the first half of each win.

The Grizzlies (6-6) took a 20-point lead in the second quarter against Chicago on Monday en route to a 102-86 win. Rudy Gay scored 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting and Marc Gasol added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Memphis shot 69.2 percent in the first half and led 58-38 at the break. The Grizzlies have averaged 54.7 points and shot 54.0 percent in the opening half of their last three games. Over their first nine, they averaged 46.4 points on 46.0 percent from the field.

"I thought we came out with great energy and great focus," coach Lionel Hollins said. "Our defense was really good."

They also got off to a good start against New Orleans on Saturday, taking a 57-47 lead into halftime in a 108-99 victory. Gay finished with 23 points and Gasol had 20 and 11 rebounds.

After ending its homestand on a high note, Memphis will play six of its next seven on the road. The Grizzlies have struggled away from home, averaging 80.6 points while losing four of five.

Gasol, averaging 17.0 points at home, has been held under nine points in three of the team's five road games while shooting 40.4 percent.

"We are getting better every day but we can't stop," Gasol said. "We're taking baby steps right now. To get where we want to get, it's going to take a lot more effort."

While Memphis isn't playing well on the road, Western Conference-worst New Orleans (3-10) has been struggling everywhere with five straight losses and 10 in 11 games.

The Hornets were held to their lowest point total of the season in an 84-77 loss to Portland on Monday, their sixth straight defeat at home.

New Orleans scored 35 points in the first half while shooting 39.5 percent. The Hornets also turned the ball over 19 times and went 0 of 9 from 3-point range.

"We've hit a funk. There's no denying that. But you have to continue to compete," coach Monty Williams said. "We get to play basketball and we get paid. ... A lot of people would love to have our problems. ... You've got to keep fighting and value your occupation and take it seriously."

To spark the offense, Williams inserted Jason Smith into the lineup in place of Chris Kaman, who scored nine points the previous two games while shooting 3 of 16. Coming off the bench, Kaman finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.

The Hornets remained without starters Eric Gordon (right knee) and Trevor Ariza (right groin). Williams hopes Ariza returns by the end of the week.

"We are trying to figure out our roles and different lineups and different positions," Kaman said. "Everybody is just trying to deal with it and figure it all out."

The Grizzlies have held New Orleans to 89.7 points during a three-game win streak in the series.

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