MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The New Orleans Hornets no longer have to
worry about being the first team in NBA history to lose every game
in their division.
J.R. Smith scored a career-high 33 points as the Hornets won
their first game of the season against a Southwest Division
opponent defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 96-85 Saturday night.
"It's good to get that monkey off our back," said forward P.J.
Brown. "We finally got that done. We should have gotten it done a
long time ago."
Smith connected on 13-of-18 shots, including 6-of-9 3-pointers,
as the Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak. New Orleans
entered the game 0-14 against Southwest opponents.
New Orleans built the lead to 20 points in the third period-- its
biggest lead in any game this season--and coasted home. The 11-point
win matched the Hornets' largest victory margin of the season.
"Fortunately, we were on tonight, and ended up beating a pretty
good team," Smith said.
Brown added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets. Jamaal
Magloire had 10 points and 13 rebounds as New Orleans had a 20-4
advantage in second-chance points.
"I thought the thing that got us started was our defense," New
Orleans coach Byron Scott said. "We did a much better job of
keeping people out of the paint, and then we rebounded the ball.
That makes the offense easier when you do those things."
Brian Cardinal scored 17 points to lead Memphis, but was 5-of-13
from the field, part of a 40 percent Grizzlies shooting
performance. Mike Miller added 13 for the Grizzlies, while Lorenzen
Wright finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The stage was set early for an ugly game. Memphis missed its
first five shots, and the Hornets misfired on their initial seven.
But Smith got hot, hitting six of his next seven shots.
"He was unconscious," Brown said of Smith's shooting
performance. "I call him World B. Free. He was shooting out of
this world. He was feeling good, confident, and he led the
The play of Memphis point guards Jason Williams and Earl Watson
was the ugliest. In the first half, Williams missed his first five
shots, while Watson was ineffective trying to replace him. Both
turned the ball over twice. The Grizzlies shot 32 percent in the
half and missed all six of their 3-point attempts. For the game,
Memphis shot a season-low 11.8 percent from outside the arc,
hitting only 2 of 17.
But that wasn't the only standard of futility. Memphis had only
nine assists in the game-- a season low and only one more than the
franchise record low of eight.
"That's as telling as any other stat in this game," said
Memphis forward Shane Battier. "We didn't shoot a very good
percentage, but part of that was because we didn't have a lot of
assists. It was one of those bad nights for us."
The Hornets took advantage of the poor play, building the lead
to as much as 16 in the first half before carrying a 49-36 lead
into the half. And it didn't get much better after the break as the
Grizzlies failed to get the margin under double digits.
"I was just disappointed in our performance," Memphis coach
Mike Fratello said. "I felt like we were just one step behind in
every phase. It wasn't a good performance, and we know that."
Memphis reserve C Jake Tsakalidis did not dress for his
second straight game because of an abscessed tooth. ...Hornets G
Speedy Claxton returned after missing the last three games with a
sprained left ankle. ...The Hornets are now 2-8 when Smith scores
at least 20 points. ...Hornets G Dan Dickau set a career-high with
five steals. ...Memphis F James Posey, who has suffered an array of
ailments this season, was injured in the fourth quarter when he was
fouled hard by Casey Jacobsen, who was called for a flagrant foul.
The Grizzlies reported after the game that Posey suffered a right
hip contusion and a right shoulder sprain. ...Brown recorded his
26th double-double of the season.