Rudy Gay matched a season-best with 28 points and the Memphis Grizzlies held off the New Orleans Hornets down the stretch to record a 96-89 road victory on Friday.
Gay shot 10-of-18 from the field, while Quincy Pondexter made all six of his shot attempts -- four of which came from 3-point range -- in a 16-point effort as the Grizzlies posted their sixth win in seven games and improved their NBA- best season record to 14-3.
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.
"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"
Austin Rivers had a career-high 15 points and Ryan Anderson and Brian Roberts also netted 15 for the Hornets, who finished off a 5-game homestand at 1-4.
An 8-0 run in which Randolph was responsible for the first six points enabled Memphis to overcome an early 14-12 disadvantage just past the midway mark of the first quarter, and the Grizzlies would steadily increase the margin over the next two periods.
The lead grew to double-digits during a 12-4 second-quarter spurt in which the Grizzlies knocked down four 3-pointers, including a pair from Pondexter. His last one capped off the flurry and put Memphis up by a 43-33 count with 2:19 remaining in the half.
"He has been working on his shot a lot," said Randolph of Pondexter. "'Q' has been playing great ball and his play has been what we need."
Memphis went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc over the initial two quarters, and Gay poured in 15 of his points prior to intermission to spur the Grizzlies to a 51-39 advantage at the break.
The Grizzlies maintained a double-digit cushion late into the third quarter, but New Orleans began to whittle away at its deficit thereafter. The Hornets closed out the frame with an 8-2 sequence culminating in Roberts' deep 3- pointer just before the buzzer that pulled his team within 71-66.
New Orleans continued to draw closer, and a Jason Smith layup off a Roberts feed trimmed Memphis' edge to 86-85 with 3:45 to go. The Grizzlies countered with a 10-2 run, however, to keep their opponent at bay.
Gay's 3-pointer with 2:10 left play provided Memphis with some breathing room at 94-87, and Randolph put the contest out of reach after tipping in a Mike Conley miss off a New Orleans turnover with 40.6 seconds on the final clock.
"It's close to the right effort," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams. "We competed; we played hard. If we could (only) add some more execution that complements the effort. I'm proud of how we competed, but my heart aches because you lost a game you had a chance to win."
Gay also netted 28 points in a win at Oklahoma City on Nov. 14 and has now registered at least 14 points in a career-best 20 consecutive games ... Rivers' previous career high was 14 points, which the rookie lottery pick set two times prior ... Memphis 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 ... Xavier Henry drew his first start of the season for New Orleans and finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting ... The Hornets shot 8-of-16 from 3-point range for the game ... New Orleans center Robin Lopez entered the contest with four straight double-digit scoring efforts, but managed only two points while going 1-of-6 from the field and committing four turnovers.