Oct 31, 2017
by Chase Gage
MEMPHIS — Former EPC star and Lepanto native Malik Monk returned to the area (in a basketball sense) for the first time since the NBA Draft. The 11th-overall pick was faced with the task of taking down the team with the best record in the NBA on their own home floor.
The Memphis Grizzlies played host to the Charlotte Hornets Monday night in a game featuring two small-market teams that will have to fight for their lives to get a playoff spot in the new-look NBA where all the all-stars skip town to go to major-market teams.
The former SEC Player of the Year has had a slow start to his NBA career, though that should be expected for a rookie coming off the bench. Through six games coming into Monday night, Monk was averaging seven points with a career-high of 17 against the Nuggets.
The Grizzlies have been the hottest team in the NBA through the first six games, posting a 5-1 record with wins over Golden State and Houston (twice). They came into the gaming with a perfect record on their home court. The Hornets have experienced some growing pains while trying to get their chemistry together with their new addition Dwight Howard, though he is fitting in just fine so far, averaging 16 points and 16 rebounds through their first six games.
It ended up being a happy homecoming for Monk, as he posted the second-highest scoring game of his young NBA career. Monk scored 13 points while going 3-7 from the three-point line in the 104-99 victory. Kemba Walker dropped 27 points and dished out six assists to lead the Hornets in both categories. Howard only managed two points but was able to grab seven rebounds in the process (a season-low in both categories).
Tyreek Evans emerged as the leading scorer for the Grizzlies despite coming off the bench. He managed 17 points on 6-17 shooting from the floor. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol combined for 26 points in the losing effort.
The Hornets now sit at 4-3, good enough for seventh-place in the Eastern Conference. Memphis fell for only the second time this season and now sit at 5-2, which is still first place in the Western Conference and tied for the best record in the NBA.
Wednesday night the Hornets will host the Milwaukee Bucks (4-2) and the Grizzlies will face off at home against the Orlando Magic (5-2) in a battle for the best record in the league.
-Featured Image via CBSSports.com-