Hornets match up with Grizzlies
Two teams that employ powerful big-man/little-man tandems duel Monday night when the Charlotte Hornets visit the Memphis Grizzlies.
Point guard Kemba Walker (34 points, 10 assists) and center Dwight Howard (22 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles Sunday night as the Hornets outlasted the Orlando Magic 120-113 in Charlotte.
Next up: Head-to-heads with Grizzlies star guard Michael Conley and center Marc Gasol, who have Memphis off to a 5-1 start that includes a total of three wins over the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors.
The teams split their two-game series last season, each winning somewhat easily on the opponent's home floor.
The Hornets (3-3) got 21 points from Walker in a 104-85 win at Memphis in their last visit.
That was before Charlotte added Howard in free agency. His combination with Walker clicked big-time in the win Sunday over Orlando.
"We are trying to make sure we are on the same page," Walker said of learning how to play with Howard. "I tell him I am going to be learning ways to get him the basketball and just be patient with me. And that is what he has been doing. And he's opening up so many other aspects of my game. He attracts so much attention and gets other people open."
Howard also has been rebounding the ball, grabbing at least 10 boards in all six Hornets games. The double-double on Sunday was his fifth of the season.
Nothing figures to come easily on Monday night.
First off, the Hornets will be playing the second game of a back-to-back without one of their key players, injured forward Nic Batum.
And Gasol regularly makes things tough on the opposing center, including Howard, who has totaled just 17 points on a total of only nine shots the last two times they have faced.
Gasol had a great all-around game -- 13 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and three blocked shots -- when Memphis won at Charlotte last season 104-85 before the arrival of Howard in the summer.
The Grizzlies got help from an unusual source -- their bench -- in their 103-89 home win over Houston on Saturday night.
Chandler Parsons (24), Mario Chalmers (15) and Tyreke Evans (14) combined for 53 points on a night when Conley (eight) and Gasol (six) uncharacteristically contributed just 14.
"Our chemistry is perfect right now, just because most of our second unit, we're coming back from injuries," Parsons said. "That's the thing we have in common. We're all hungry."
Memphis' 4-0 home record so far features not only the Saturday win over Houston but also an earlier victory over Golden State.
After a visit from Orlando caps a four-game homestand Wednesday, the Grizzlies will head west for a five-game trip, one what includes a third meeting already with Houston, one of their chief rivals in the Southwest Division.
The Hornets, meanwhile, play six of their next eight on the road, including a visit to another of the Southwest powers, San Antonio. The stretch also features matchups with two of the powers of the East: Boston and Cleveland.
Updated October 30, 2017