Memphis, La. - The New Orleans Pelicans logged their first road win of the season Wednesday night in Memphis, starting hot and enduring through four quarters to triumph over the Grizzlies 99-84.
This was the second time this young team has bounced back from a demoralizing loss and won on the last leg of a back-to-back.
"We have a resilient group that hates losing," head coach Monty Williams said. "They hate the feeling of letting each other down. We have a tendency to bounce back after we don't play as well as we can."
The Pelicans built a 33-18 first quarter lead behind exceptional shooting from all of their starting five, particularly their frontcourt. Forwards Anthony Davis and Al Farouq Aminu, along with center Jason Smith, totaled 19 points combined. Smith challenged his teammates before the game to do a better job of trusting each other and moving the ball. In the first period, the Pelicans notched 8 assists on 14 field goals.
New Orleans' lead dwindled from a first half high 18 points down to 10 at half time. Inside the locker room, the Pelicans coaching staff delivered a rousing message about guarding the paint and not repeating the same transgressions of earlier this season when this young team let a lead lull them into a sense of complacency.
The Pelicans responded, coming out from the break with a sense of urgency, using an 8-1 run over the first 3:15 of the third quarter to build the lead back to 17.
When the final period began, the Pelicans had opened up a 22 point lead. Several key factors contributed to this win, including a healthy Eric Gordon who's now able to play back-to-back games, unlike last season. Gordon ended the night with 33:58 minutes of playing time and a team high 19 points.
"We played really good defense, which gave us opportunities in the fast break," Gordon said. "We did that all night and never let up defensively. We were knocking down jump shots and getting layups. The more we do that, the easier it becomes. It breaks down the opposing teams. It really helps our chemistry. It was a good night for us."
The Pelicans wrapped the night winning the fast break battle 17-8.
Davis finished with 18 points, 3 blocked shots, 3 steals and 9 rebounds. He became the first player with 15 points and 3 blocks in each of their team's first 5 games since Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson in the 1992/93 season.