MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A ragtag cast of Memphis Grizzlies used several career-best performances to make up for lost players and live up to the team’s reputation for toughness.
Led by Lance Stephenson’s career-high 33 points, the first triple-double of Matt Barnes’ career and a point guard signed out of the D-League on a 10-day contract earlier in the day, Memphis went to overtime before defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 121-114 on Friday night.
Barnes recorded 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, while JaMychal Green also had a career-high 21 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. Rookie point guard Briante Weber added 10 points and seven assists in 40 minutes.
It was a noble effort for a team with an injury list that included starting centre Marc Gasol and backup point guard Mario Chalmers, both lost to season-ending injuries. Memphis starters Zach Randolph and Mike Conley sat out, along with reserves Chris Andersen and Brandan Wright.
"We’re going to make mistakes," Barnes said of the makeshift group. "We’ve got to understand that. We’re going to do dumb stuff sometimes, and you’ve got to understand that. But the next play is the most important play."
Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 34 points and 10 assists, while Anthony Davis had 25 points and 13 rebounds. Ryan Anderson had 24 points and Dante Cunningham scored 17 as New Orleans lost its second straight.
"I’m tired. I know those guys are, too," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "They played their hearts out, as we said they would."
New Orleans had the last possession in regulation, inbounding the ball with 1.2 seconds left and tied at 99. Jarell Martin blocked the inbounds pass for Memphis, forcing overtime.
Memphis scored the first four points of the extra period on a free throw by Green and a dunk from Stephenson. New Orleans never recovered as Memphis outscored the Pelicans 22-15 – the 22 points a franchise record for an overtime frame.
"It came down to the end of the game of just making tough plays," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "You can’t give up 22 points in 5 minutes and expect to win in an overtime game."
Memphis sealed the game by converting five of six free throws in the final 26.3 seconds, including a pair from Weber with 21.7 seconds left and Memphis up 118-114.
"In overtime, they just played harder than us. They wanted it more," said the 6-foot-10 Davis, who at times was guarded by 6-4 Tony Allen, another indication of Memphis making do with the players available.
Most Grizzlies said it is just a new mindset as they try to cobble together pieces of the team to get through the injuries.
"I don’t know if we have any should-win game anymore," Barnes said, later adding: "All of our All-Star guys are gone, and all of our go-to guys are gone."
Pelicans: Davis, in his fourth season, turned 23 Friday and recorded his 34th double-double of the season. … G Norris Cole missed his second straight game with lower back soreness. … Toney Douglas started his first game of the season. … Anderson, Davis and Holiday all reached at least 20 points for the fifth time in the same game this season.
Grizzlies: Vince Carter left Friday’s game in the second quarter with a left lower leg injury and did not return. … It was the Grizzlies’ second annual Wrestling Night, drawing a sellout crowd – the team’s 12th of the season. Wrestling masks were given out as a promotion. … Memphis’ defence forced 18 turnovers on 14 steals, which it turned into 20 points. Allen had four steals.
HELLO. MY NAME IS BRIANTE
Before joining Memphis, Weber played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he averaged 10.6 pts, 4.1 assists and almost two steals. In his NBA debut, he was 4 of 6 from the field and also had five rebounds. He was so new to the team, he was in an auxiliary locker with his name handwritten on a strip of adhesive tape. "I don’t even think there’s a word in the dictionary, a phrase in the book that can explain the way I feel," Weber said.
Pelicans: Visit Milwaukee on Saturday.
Grizzlies: Visit the Atlanta on Saturday.