<
>

Watson's 3 puts Memphis ahead to stay

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- By simplifying his game, James Posey broke
out of his scoring slump, giving the undermanned Memphis Grizzlies
just enough firepower to outlast the New Orleans Hornets.

Posey scored 20 points and Earl Watson 16 as Memphis emerged
with an 88-82 triumph Wednesday night.

"I was trying to stay positive with my shot selection. I tried
to take a lot of easy shots," Posey said. "You know it's about
rhythm, and that is something I had tonight."

Watson scored seven of his points late in the fourth quarter,
hitting a 3-pointer for the 12th and final lead change of a tight
final period. He followed that with a long jumper that made it
84-80 with under two minutes remaining.

"He hit some tough shots -- one jumper over me -- so I give him a
lot of credit because he stepped up and got it done," said Hornets
forward P.J. Brown, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Brian Cardinal added 14 points and Lorenzen Wright 11 for the
Grizzlies, who played more than half the game without Mike Miller,
who was in foul trouble.

The Grizzlies also were without Jason Williams (right ankle),
Stromile Swift (left ankle), Bonzi Wells (back) and Pau Gasol (left
foot).

"That's what's special about this team. We have a group of guys
who are willing to work hard," Posey said. "We're not worried
about who's a star, who has the most points. It's about winning and
we have guys who step up -- a different guy on different nights."

Reserve Bostjan Nachbar led New Orleans with 19 points, while
J.R. Smith added 11. Jamaal Magloire, returning from a fractured
right ring finger that kept him out for 51 games, had 10 rebounds
and five points in 25 minutes.

Memphis led 52-37 early in the third period before Dan Dickau,
who had missed his first four shots, sparked a 12-0 run with a
3-pointer, followed by three free throws after being fouled on a
3-point attempt. Shortly after, Nachbar made his second and third
3-pointers of the game, giving the Hornets their first lead, 59-58.

Memphis finished the quarter with a 67-65 lead, however, after
Posey, who scored 10 of the Grizzlies' last 12 points of the
period, stole a pass from Brown and drove more than half the court
for a score.

"We were there, but they've got players who've been through a
lot of different close games and they didn't change their
approach," Dickau said. "We've got so many young players and
we're all gaining a lot of experience, but there comes a time when
you're competitive and you want to win these games. You want to see
the fruit of your hard work start to come."

With Miller and Shane Battier (10 points) in foul trouble,
Memphis needed the production from Posey, who missed much of
February with a right Achilles strain and had scored only two and
five points in his last two games.

"To me, by far, since I've been here, that was James Posey's
best game. He was exceptional," said Mike Fratello, who took over
as coach in December after Hubie Brown stepped down. "James has
been coming off injuries. He's battled back ... trying to get his
stamina back. Without James tonight, we were just not there at the
end. James kept us in the game. He just found a way to make a
basket when we needed it."

The Hornets outrebounded Memphis 43-34 and had 22 second-chance
points, but shot only 37.7 percent from the field. Memphis shot
47.9 percent and scored 17 points on 16 Hornets turnovers.

The Grizzlies, who shot 52 percent in a victory Monday over
Portland, hit 49 percent of their first-half shots in building an
early lead. Cardinal's putback capped a 15-4 run that put Memphis
ahead 34-21 in the second quarter.

The lead remained in double digits for much of the half as
Watson made four of his first five shots, including a 3-pointer
that made it 47-34 before the Hornets cut their deficit to 47-37 at
halftime.

Game notes
Brown's defensive rebound early in the opening quarter made
him the Hornets' all-time leading rebounder. He now has 3,491. He
passed Larry Johnson, who had 3,479 rebounds from 1991 to 1996.
"It's something I will cherish and am very proud of," Brown said.
... Brown also had his team-high 24th double-double. ... Memphis
shot 58.8 percent (10-of-17) in the first quarter in opening a
25-19 lead. ... Cardinal, a fifth-year pro, had eight rebounds to
pass the 500 mark. He now has 505.

<