Pelicans 104, Grizzlies 98

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- Guard Eric Gordon scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and backcourt mate Jrue Holiday added 20 points and 12 assists to lift the New Orleans Pelicans to a 104-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at the New Orleans Arena.
Gordon, who made 10 of 12 shots from the field, and Holiday took control after the Pelicans saw a 19-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle to 94-88 with 4:53 left on a 3-pointer by forward Mike Miller with 4:53 left.
Gordon and Holiday combined for eight of the Pelicans' final 10 points as New Orleans (11-10) won its second consecutive home game before embarking on a five-game road trip.
The Grizzlies (10-12) were led by forward Jon Leuer with 19 points and guard Mike Conley with 18.
The Pelicans used a 27-11 third quarter -- holding the Grizzlies without a field goal in the last 6:05 of the quarter -- to open an 82-65 lead. Memphis, which began the game by making 14 of 18 shots from the field (77.7 percent), missed 16 of 20 shots in the third as the Pelicans logged their best defensive quarter of the season in holding Memphis to 11 points.
Holiday was the key, playing excellent defense against Conley and adding four points and four assists as the Pelicans shot 52.6 percent from the floor. Gordon contributed 12 third-quarter points.
Trailing 91-73, the Grizzlies used a 15-3 run during an 8:07 stretch of the fourth quarter to cut the New Orleans lead to 94-88 with 4:53 left, but they couldn't get any closer.
Until the Grizzlies missed their final two 3-point shots of the first half, they were 16 of 23 from the field (69.6 percent), hitting wide-open shots from the perimeter and driving uncontested into the lane.
Conley, with back-to-back 3-pointers, had 10 points and three assists in leading Memphis to a 34-26 first-quarter lead.
By the time Memphis opened a 44-35 lead midway through the second quarter, the Grizzlies had scored 26 points in the paint. But the Pelicans used a 20-10 run during the final 5:45 of the half to take a 55-54 lead at intermission.
The catalysts were Holiday, who hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, and Anderson, who added a long-range jumper and a reverse layup during an 8-0 run. Anderson led New Orleans with 12 first-half points. Holiday added 10 points and seven assists.
Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans aggravated a left ankle injury at the end of the half when he landed awkwardly on a layup attempt. He stayed in to make both free throws, giving the Pelicans a one-point lead at halftime.
The Grizzlies shot 59.6 percent from the field but still trailed by one at the half.
NOTES: With SF Darius Miller fully recovered from a stress fracture in his foot, the Pelicans released SF Josh Childress, who signed on Nov. 12. Childress, a seven-year veteran, played in just four games and failed to score. ... The Pelicans are carrying only 14 players and have targeted a position to fill, but coach Monty Williams isn't tipping his hand. ... PF Anthony Davis is ramping up his practice routine while he recovers from a fractured left finger suffered Dec. 1, but Williams said he will be very careful about bringing the second-year player back. "He's chomping at the bit to get back," Williams said. "I want him as bad or more than anybody, but not at the expense of putting him in harm's way. He's amped up his workouts. He tries to do it behind my back. I won't give him the OK until we get that from the medical staff." ... The injury-ravaged Grizzlies got some relief on Friday night. G Tony Allen, who missed four consecutive games with a right hip contusion, returned to the lineup, as did F Ed Davis, who was sidelined for three games with a sprained left ankle.