The Atlanta Hawks will try to hamper the playoff aspirations of another visitor on Monday night when the Memphis Grizzlies come to town.
The Grizzlies and Hawks are in adjoining states, but they play in different conferences and haven’t met this season. Now, with the schedule winding down, they’ll face off twice within a week: Monday in Atlanta and Saturday in Memphis.
The Hawks have been red-hot at home, winning eight of their past 10 games at State Farm Arena. The Hawks beat Portland 129-117 on Saturday to knock the Trail Blazers into 11th place in the Western Conference. It also was the first time in 12 tries this season that Atlanta won both ends of a back-to-back.
“It’s pretty special now,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Consistency is the key. Can we keep it up? Can we continue to share the basketball and move the basketball that way? But what a great effort by our guys (against Portland).”
Memphis is currently in eighth place in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies have a 2 1/2-game lead over New Orleans for the final playoff spot entering Sunday’s action, but there are four other teams within 3 1/2 games of catching them. The stop in Atlanta will be the first of a three-game road trip that also includes visits to Brooklyn and Dallas.
The Grizzlies ended a five-game losing streak on Saturday with a 105-88 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the No. 1 team in the West. Four of the five losses on the skid were on the road. Memphis limited the Lakers to a season-low scoring total.
“We understand there’s going to be adversity,” Memphis rookie Ja Morant said. “So, there’s no reason to panic. We’re going to control what we can. That’s how we play on the floor.”
Morant recorded his second straight game with 20-plus points and 10-plus assists when he went for 27 points and 14 assists against the Lakers. Morant joined Luka Doncic and Trae Young as the only rookies since the 2011-12 season to post consecutive games with 20 points and 10 assists and became only the second rookie in NBA history — joining Oscar Robertson — with at least 27 points and 14 assists in a game against the Lakers.
“We just locked in (against the Lakers), stayed focused, learned from our losses and came out and played a full 48,” Morant said.
Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and 20 rebounds against the Lakers and became the first player in franchise history to post back-to-back games with 20-plus rebounds.
Atlanta has been coming together gradually behind Young, who is averaging 29.8 points and 9.4 assists, and power forward John Collins, who is averaging 21.4 points and 10.3 rebounds. Rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are starting to live up to their potential. Reddish had a season-high 26 points on Friday and Hunter scored 22 on Saturday against Portland.
–Field Level Media