The Memphis Grizzlies like to go fast, and they have backcourt personnel fully capable of doing so.
That might be a good trait for the Grizzlies in any situation and perhaps even better going into Wednesday night’s road game against the Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets can’t seem to slow down anybody.
“The fouling crushes you,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “Not getting back on defense crushes you.”
Memphis will arrive with the guard combination of Ja Morant and Tyus Jones, a duo that seems to be growing together as they tear through opponents.
“As far as our chemistry, I feel like it’s just tough to guard,” Morant said. “You have two guys out there on the floor who can create for everybody and themselves. It allows us to get out and run even more.”
Across the past dozen games, the Hornets are toward the bottom of the NBA in fastbreak points allowed.
The Grizzlies have won three games in a row, capped with Sunday’s 118-108 home victory against the Sacramento Kings. Morant racked up 35 points for his fifth game of 30 or more points in the last seven outings.
The Hornets have lost seven of their last eight home games, with numerous snags to sort out. Many of the issues are rooted on defense.
“We don’t have a lot of room for error, but we can play a lot better,” Clifford said. “We have enough offense. We’re going to start to shoot the ball better if we get these guys back. Still, you’ve got to guard.”
Charlotte won’t have an easy time making defensive improvements and will be further hindered by the loss of Kelly Oubre Jr. and his 20.2 points per game. Oubre is expected to miss at least a month after surgery on his left hand.
Memphis has plenty of muscle in the middle with enter Steven Adams, who has 44 combined rebounds over the past two games.
“Just focus on the small things,” said Adams, who grabs 11.2 rebounds per game.
Said Morant: “Just a man amongst boys. He has been very big-time for us. It’s something we need and have to do.”
In the last nine wins for Memphis, the Grizzlies haven’t allowed more than 108 points.
Memphis owns a 130-99 romp past visiting Charlotte on Nov. 4. The Hornets didn’t have point guard LaMelo Ball for that game, so the rematch is expected to include two of the league’s exciting young guards.
Morant had 12 points and 11 assists in the first game against the Hornets, as Charlotte largely was hindered by Memphis’ 60-41 rebounding edge. Adams had 19 rebounds that night.
In the Hornets’ home loss Monday to the Los Angeles Lakers, amid LeBron James’ 43-point outburst, a notable achievement was largely overlooked. Charlotte center Mason Plumlee recorded his 100th career double-double.
Charlotte could be without swingman Gordon Hayward, who left Monday’s game with hamstring soreness.
Wednesday night’s game marks one of only three road outings for the Grizzlies across the first 19 days of January. The team played only six road games in December.
–Field Level Media