NBA Game Summary - Atlanta at Memphis
(Wednesday, October 27th)
Final Score: Atlanta 119, Memphis 104
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson finished with 22 points and seven assists, as the Atlanta Hawks took a 119-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in their season opener and the debut of head coach Larry Drew.
Zaza Pachulia added 17 points and 11 boards off the bench for the Hawks, who went 53-29 last season and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals. However, after the Hawks were swept by the Orlando Magic, Mike Woodson was fired and Drew, the lead assistant, was tabbed as the next head coach.
Mike Bibby added 19 points and Marvin Williams netted 15 in the victory.
Rudy Gay ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds to pace Memphis, which was unbeaten in seven preseason games before dropping Wednesday's contest. The Grizzlies, who were 40-42 last season, have dropped their last 10 season- openers.
"One of the keys is their athleticism and the mismatches everywhere," said Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins. "You have to overhelp, and when you don't overhelp they get blow-bys and cause people to help."
Mike Conley scored a team-high 23, adding eight assists and five boards for the Grizzlies, who were playing without center Marc Gasol (sprained foot). Additionally, center Zach Randolph did not play in the second half because of a lower back contusion.
"I think it's a little bit more than those two being out," Gay said. "It's more than that that had us lose this game."
There were only two lead changes, and both occurred in the first quarter. It was still a tight game late in the stanza, but with about three minutes left Josh Smith hit a jumper and Maurice Evans followed with a layup. Evans capped the quarter with a three to give Atlanta a 30-22 advantage.
The Hawks began the second quarter with a Josh Powell layup and Jamal Crawford three-point play to boost their lead to double digits. The teams traded points for the rest of the half as Memphis tried to slice into its deficit, but a technical foul on Gay with 27 seconds left allowed Atlanta to net three foul shots and take a 62-50 advantage into the break.
The Grizzlies managed to close within a few possessions late in the third quarter, as consecutive buckets from Sam Young and Conley had them within 79-75 with 3:25 remaining.
But Atlanta responded with a 12-0 run to end the quarter. Eight of the points came on free throws, and Pachulia's pair with 50.5 on the clock made it a 91-75 game moving to the fourth.
Darrell Arthur's hook shot with 8:22 left capped a seven-point burst and got Memphis within 96-85, but Johnson followed with two free throws. Bibby then sank a three to give Atlanta a 101-85 advantage, and the Hawks held a sizable lead the rest of the game.
Atlanta sank 27-of-31 free throws and made 52.5 percent of its shots...The last time the Grizzlies won a season-opener was 2000-01, the final year the club was located in Vancouver...Arthur, starting in Gasol's place, scored 19 points before fouling out.
10/28 03:50:12 ET