Walker, Lamb lead Hornets past Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Charlotte Hornets were down by six points late in the first quarter Monday night. Enter Jeremy Lamb. The Hornets guard knocked down a pair of threes in the last minute of the quarter to tie the score and added two rebounds and a block.
It was all part of a very efficient night that ended with Lamb scoring a season-high 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting with nine rebounds as Charlotte defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 104-85 at FedExForum.
Lamb’s performance was also a nice encore to his 18-point, 17-rebound game in beating the New York Knicks last Saturday.
“I‘m just trying to bring energy, that’s what you want to do off the bench,” Lamb said. “It’s a long season. This is just two games. I gotta continue to focus and stay at it.”
Teammate Kemba Walker, who also scored 21 points Monday, said Lamb’s mindset has taken a leap forward as he understands what his contributions mean.
“He knows what kind of player he’s got to be for us to win,” said Walker.
A 19-4 run at the end of second quarter gave Charlotte a 17-point cushion at halftime. The Hornets stretched their advantage to as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter and Memphis never got the deficit below 10 points in the second half.
Charlotte (10-7) also got 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal from forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Forward Frank Kaminsky chipped in 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.
The Grizzlies (11-7) lost starting point guard Mike Conley at the 8:25 mark of the third quarter when he was run over by Kidd-Gilchrist, who was called for a charge. Conley (14 points, five assists and two steals) suffered a low back injury and did not return. Conley came into the game needing 20 points to surpass Pau Gasol as the Grizzlies’ all-time leading scorer.
“A lot of guys looked like they were worried,” said Memphis swingman Tony Allen (nine points, four rebounds). “I think the game got away from us at that point.”
Memphis coach David Fizdale said postgame he did not know the extent of Conley’s injury. “We’ll know something by tomorrow,” he said. Conley was already gone when the Grizzlies’ locker room opened.
But the Grizzlies had struggles aside from the injury, too.
“I looked at the numbers and we were like 1-for-10 from around two feet,” Fizdale said. “I liked our 3-point looks, we just didn’t knock down shots tonight and we let it affect our defense.”
Center Marc Gasol, paced Memphis with 19 points and eight rebounds. Forward Jarell Martin finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Charlotte made 36 of 82 shots from the field for 43.9 percent and hit 9 of 26 from 3-point range for 34.6 percent. The Grizzlies made 36 of 89 shots for 40.4 percent and were 7 of 29 from distance for 24.1 percent.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford stopped short of calling it his team’s best win of the season -- the Grizzlies had won seven of their previous eight -- but he liked what he saw.
“I liked the readiness, the ball movement, the balance of play,” Clifford said. “At halftime we had 15 assists, which is a lot, and we were just as good in the second half. We played a good game.”
This game wrapped up the teams’ season series, with the Grizzlies winning last week in Charlotte.
Walker said they remembered the loss well. The evidence was there in Charlotte’s 47-42 rebounding edge and hanging with Memphis on points in the paint, which the Grizzlies narrowly won 42-40.
“We wanted to be physical,” Walker said. “They play really hard and had been playing great of late. It’s a big win.”
NOTES: Even this early in the season, first-year Memphis coach David Fizdale has discovered that his lineups are going to be in a constant state of flux. On Monday against Charlotte, the Grizzlies were again without F Chandler Parsons (knee), F James Ennis (calf) and PF Zach Randolph (death in the family). And the Grizzlies are wanting to hold down the minutes of PG Mike Conley and C Marc Gasol, further challenging Fizdale. Finding the right combinations, he said, is a “gamble and a roll of the dice.” ... Charlotte had both a four-game winning streak and four-game losing skid this season. ... Hornets G Kemba Walker was tied for the second-most 25-point, five-assist, and five-rebound games among Eastern Conference players with four entering Monday. ... Hornets F Marvin Williams missed his second straight game with a hyperextended left knee. ... Memphis played the fifth of its seven straight games against the East.