The New Orleans Hornets will soon be the New Orleans Pelicans. This has absolutely nothing to do with the team defeating the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday at FedExForum 91 to 83.
It's irrelevant because the New Orleans team has carried on with business as usual winning eight of their last 12 games and they used Memphis to add to their stat sheet.
The Grizzlies ended a four-game home stand against the Hornets after beating the Brooklyn Nets (101-77) and the Los Angeles Lakers (106-93).
But Hornets head coach Monty Williams may have said it best.
"Memphis is not the kind of team you feel sorry for," he said.
Williams was speaking of the major accomplishments the Grizzlies have made and the impact the players have made on the league. So even with a short roster, it's hard to feel sorry for a team that has overcome adversity and turned into a well-respected playoff contingent ball club.
They don't feel sorry for themselves. They regroup and prepare for the next game.
The Grizzlies had won four of their past five games since losing three-in-row by 20 or more points. They outscored the Hornets 42-34 in the paint, and they have accomplished the task of outscoring their opponents in the paint in six consecutive games.
Sunday's contest changed for the Grizzlies when they found themselves another man down after point guard Mike Conley in the first quarter with a sprained left ankle. He did not return.
Last week, the Grizzlies traded guards Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby, along with forward/center Marreese Speights and a future draft pick. All were sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers for forward Jon Leuer.
With one less integral player on the court, everybody had to step up. But it just wasn't enough to secure a win from a team that prepared on playing tough defense in the paint.
"They were long," said Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. "The offensive rebounds, they had 14 of them because of their length. Then the two big guys started hitting threes. They did a job inside by blocking shots (and) keeping us off balance with playing zone and man-to-man," he said.
"We just didn't push the ball up the floor. We got in to their pace. We played slower. We scored 83 points. We shot 36 percent, and they were 9-for-20 for threes. That was a huge difference."
Hornets forward Ryan Anders led all scorers with 22 points off the bench, with 7-of-13 from the three point line. He was followed by Jason Smith, who scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Former Grizz guard now with the Hornets, Greivis Vasquez, had 11 rebounds.
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 20 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Marc Gasol with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Jerryd Bayless scored 14 points off the bench.
"It's been rough in the second half," Randolph said. "We have to come out and play our game. We need our bench. We're kind of short-handed, so we'll get back to it – playing our game, playing defense and getting stops. They hit a lot of shots tonight. They hit threes and got into the paint."
Center Marc Gasol said, "We got down a couple times because we couldn't execute and weren't running our stuff and they were great at executing. Every time they looked for something, they found it. They hit some big shots at the end and they pulled away."
The Grizzlies will face the Philadelphia 76ers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday (Jan. 31).
As for Conley and his injury: "He will probably play tomorrow night but there's no real word," Hollins said.
When asked of his pain level Conley replied, "It's about a five right now."
NOTE: Zach Randolph will make his second appearance in the NBA All Star Game 2013 after being named as a reserve.