The disappointment from the crowd was evident, with a few boos oozing from the 15,209 in attendance as the Grizzlies fell to the New Orleans Pelicans 99-84 at FedExForum on Wednesday night.
It was a lack of effort and seemingly lethargic attitude that disappointed the crowd most. The reaction sent Grizz guard Mike Conley into flashback mode.
"It hurts a lot because we've come a long way," Conley said. "We've come a very long way in my six years here. I remember the boos as a rookie, second year and third year and I don't ever want to go back to it."
Conley led all scorers with a season-high 26 points before leaving the game in fourth quarter with a cut under his right eye.
"We deserved that," said guard Tony Allen. "We played like that. The fans know we play harder. You can't fool them."
Allen accepts and embraces his role as the "catalyst of defense." He and Conley agreed that getting back to the defensive style of play that propelled Memphis to the West Conference Finals is the recipe for success.
"It starts with our defense," Allen said. "The way we've been having success is everybody being on the same page defensively and that's helped us through the long run. That's helped us these past years I've been here. I think we need to get back to that."
In the first quarter the Pelicans hit 13 of their first 16 shots, building a 15-point lead. The Grizzlies trailed the remainder of the game, falling behind by as many as 29 points.
New Orleans started the second half on an 8-1 run to build a 10-point lead up to 17 (59-42). Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless went down in the third quarter with a right knee sprain and didn't return. Memphis trailed by 22 (79-57) going into the fourth quarter.
Mike Miller shot a three with 4:42 left to play then another with more than two minutes left.
"We were already so far down it didn't matter at that point," Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger said. "Not to say it didn't' matter about winning or competing at that point, it was a matter of competing as hard as you can with the guys that are left."
The Grizzlies outscored the Pelicans 50-32. The Pelicans made 17 fast break points to the Grizzlies eight.
New Orleans guard Eric Gordon led the Pelicans with 19 points. Anthony Davis pitched in 18 points and nine rebounds. Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said he expected his team to play with a bit of passion.
"It's too early in the season to try to make assessments on any team, unless you're undefeated," Williams said of the Grizzlies. "I'm sure they are having an adjustment period like we are. You go through that when you have so many new players and a new coach."
The Grizzlies play the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at FedExForum to end a three-game home stint.
Zach Randolph scored a basket, committed a foul, engineered one assist and turned the ball over twice in under eight minutes before getting word that his fiancé was in labor. Jon Leuer came off the bench as his placement.