NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 8th (All times Eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (11-5) at Memphis Grizzlies (14-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After wrapping up a successful homestand, the Atlanta Hawks aim to stay hot on Saturday night as they play the first of three straight games on the road with a matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Hawks went 4-1 on their homestand and won for the eighth time in nine games on Friday night, besting the Washington Wizards 104-95.
Josh Smith had a game-high 23 points and also grabbed 15 rebounds, while Jeff Teague finished with 19 points and six assists. Al Horford posted 14 points and 14 boards and DeShawn Stevenson hit on 5-of-11 3-point attempts to end with 15 points.
Energy may be a concern for Atlanta in this meeting. After being up 31-19 after the first quarter on Friday and leading by as many as 18 in the third, the Wizards closed within two with four minutes to play, but Smith eventually restored a six-point edge with a 3-pointer.
"That was a really tough win for us. Since we've been here on this homestand, this is probably one of the most challenging games," said Hawks coach Larry Drew. "Not to say the other games weren't challenging, but from a mental stand point this was a big challenge."
The Grizzlies certainly offer more than just a mental challenge as they own the league's best winning percentage thanks to a 14-3 mark (.824). They have won six of their past seven and gutted out a 96-89 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Rudy Gay matched a season high with 28 points, shooting 10-of-18 from the field while logging at least 14 points in a career-best 20th straight game. Former Hornet Quincy Pondexter also matched a season high with 16 points, making all six of his shot attempts. That included four from 3-point range.
Zach Randolph added 15 points for Memphis, which led from the first quarter on and were ahead by as many as 14 points in the second half before the Hornets put forth an unsuccessful comeback try.
New Orleans drew to within 86-85 with 3:45 to go, but the Grizzlies countered with a 10-2 run to keep the Hornets at bay.
"Every time we come to New Orleans it's always a fight to the finish," said Randolph afterward. "It's a boxing match. It was a good game, we played hard and everyone contributed. Rudy Gay also had a great game tonight. It was a good win"
Guard Tony Allen returned to action after missing three straight games with a groin strain and contributed six points and three steals in 22 minutes.
The Grizzlies had lost four straight to the Hawks prior to a 96-77 win at Atlanta in the lone meeting last season. Gay led all scorers with 21 points and added six rebounds.
Atlanta has won four of its past five trips to Memphis.
12/08 10:34:13 ET