MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rudy Gay scored 26 points and Mike Conley added 20 as the Memphis Grizzlies clinched a playoff berth for the second straight season with a 103-91 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.
Gay was on 9 of 14 from the field and Conley hit 8 of 11 as the Grizzlies shot 51 percent overall. O.J. Mayo scored 15 points and Zach Randolph added 10 for Memphis, which won for the 10th time in 13 games.
Rookie Jerome Dyson led the Hornets with a career-high 24 points, while Carl Landry finished with 16, hitting all four of his shots from the field and going 8 of 9 from the line. Marco Belinelli matched Landry’s 16 points, and Jason Smith finished with 12.
The loss snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak.
With the victory, Memphis maintained its hold on the fifth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies’ start was hardly representative of a team trying to clinch a playoff berth. They struggled and seemed content to ignore their offensive plans, relying more on a one-on-one mentality.
Only a ramped-up defensive approach in the closing minutes of the first half kept Memphis close.
Memphis opened the third quarter on a 20-4 run, hitting its first nine shots in the period. Meanwhile, the defense forced six turnovers and allowed New Orleans only five shots in the first 6 minutes of the quarter.
The rally gave Memphis a 67-52 lead midway through the third quarter. The Grizzlies would continue to build the lead to as many as 24 points as they outscored the Hornets 37-12. Gay had 13 in the quarter, and the Grizzlies forced 11 turnovers in the third alone.
That was enough for the smiles to emerge from the Memphis bench, and the reserves to get extended minutes, playing the bulk of the fourth quarter.
Belinelli’s 3-pointer with just over a second left in the half gave him 14 points and the Hornets a 48-47 lead.
Belinelli connected on 6 of 11 shots in the half, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range, part of the Hornets shooting 54 percent.
Memphis, which has a reputation as one of the league’s strongest inside teams, decided to rely on long-range shooting, hitting only one of its eight shots from outside the arc. Still, Memphis had a 34-18 advantage in the paint, and the Hornets were hindered by nine turnovers.
Memphis ended the game outscoring the Hornets 56-34 in the paint, and New Orleans committed 24 turnovers.
Notes: The Hornets defeated Memphis 88-75 on Sunday in New Orleans. .Memphis reserve G Gilbert Arenas sat out the game with an injured finger on his shooting hand. .The Hornets announced before the game that C Chris Kaman likely will miss the rest of the season with a bruised left tibia. G Jarrett Jack already is out with a right foot stress fracture and C Emeka Okafor is likely gone for the last four games with a sore left knee. .The Hornets signed 6-foot-11 C Darryl Watkins to a 10-day contract Wednesday. Watkins had two points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots against Memphis.