CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Marc Gasol scored 22 points, and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Charlotte Hornets 71-69 on Saturday night to open 3-0 for the first time.
Zach Randolph had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
The Hornets (1-1) were led by Al Jefferson, who scored 19 points on 8-of-19 shooting. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 11 points and 12 rebounds, but the team’s big free-agent acquisition, Lance Stephenson, scored two points and didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Charlotte trailed 51-46 entering the fourth quarter, but Kemba Walker, who had been limited to one field goal all game, knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing for a 65-62 lead.
But the Grizzlies stayed poised.
Gasol scored on an inside move and drew on a foul on Marvin Williams for a 3-point play to give Memphis the lead at 71-69 with 58 seconds left.
Walker, who made two big shots including the overtime winner in the opener against Milwaukee, missed a 16-foot jumper with 5 seconds left that would have tied the game.
The Hornets gave Stephenson a $27 million, three-year contract in the offseason.
But coach Steve Clifford stuck with Gary Neal late in the game. Neal had 10 points. Stephenson, who has been bothered by a groin injury, stood near the end of the bench for most of the last five minutes and cheered on his teammates, although he looked frustrated.
The Grizzlies led 36-30 at halftime after holding the Hornets to 29 percent shooting and limiting Charlotte’s version of the big three — Jefferson, Stephenson and Walker — to a combined six points on 2-of-14 shooting.
Gasol, who had a career-high 32 points on Wednesday night against Minnesota, had more points than the three Hornets stars with 11 at the break as the Grizzlies outscored the Hornets 16-8 in the paint.
Kidd-Gilchrist kept Charlotte in the game with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
Grizzlies’ starters outscored opposing starters 171-95 in their previous two games, but the team’s bench production had been limited. Vince Carter gave Memphis a boost with nine points.
Grizzlies: Coach David Joerger said starting guard Courtney Lee will be “out a while” with a concussion. Lee was injured in the first half of Memphis’s 97-89 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Tayshaun Prince started in his place.
Hornets: Bobby Phills’ retired No. 13 jersey has returned to the rafters in Charlotte. The Hornets raised Phills’ jersey during a ceremony at halftime. Phills’ jersey originally was raised at the Charlotte Coliseum on Feb. 9, 2000, following his death in an automobile accident a month earlier. When the Hornets moved to New Orleans, his retired jersey went with the team.
Grizzlies: Host New Orleans on Monday.
Hornets: Play at New York Knicks on Sunday.
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