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Johnson leads Hawks in season opener
Pachulia adds spark off the bench for Atlanta
Hawks Grizzlies Baske Murp
Atlanta Hawks' guard Jamal Crawford is fouled by Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen on a shot-attempt in the first half Wednesday in Memphis, Tenn. - photo by By Jim Weber

The last day of school at Jones Elementary

By: Carolyn Crist

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Joe Johnson scored 22 points and Zaza Pachulia provided a spark off the bench with 17 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Atlanta Hawks to a 119-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night in both teams' season openers.

Mike Bibby added 19 points as the Hawks shot 53 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free throw line. Atlanta has won its last four season openers.

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol missed the game with a sprained left ankle. During the game, Memphis also lost forward Zach Randolph, an All-Star last season, to a lower back injury.

Without their two key big men, the Grizzlies were outrebounded 44-39 and outscored 50-44 in the paint.

Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 23 points and Rudy Gay added 21. Darrell Arthur scored a ãareer-high 19 points starting in place of Gasol.

Larry Drew won his first game as the Hawks' coach. He replaced Mike Woodson in the offseason.

Atlanta's bench outscored the Grizzlies' 50-28. Since coming to Memphis from Vancouver, the Grizzlies are 0-10 in season openers.

Johnson's 3-pointer with 5:12 left in the game gave the Hawks a 111-91 lead, silenced the Grizzlies crowd and sent fans to the exits. The 20-point lead was the Hawks' largest of the game.

The Grizzlies had pared down the Hawks' lead to 13 on a jump shot by Xavier Henry with 8:50 left. But Johnson scored nine in the fourth quarter and Bibby added eight, sealing the win.

Memphis made it competitive in the third quarter, slicing the Hawks' third-quarter lead 79-75 on a layup by Conley. But the Hawks scored 12 straight points, including four free throws by Pachulia, to build a 91-75 advantage heading into the fourth.

The Grizzlies went scoreless for the final 3:25 of the third, and home fans booed after a missed dunk by Hasheem Thabeet ended the quarter.

The Hawks built a 37-24 lead in the second quarter, helped by strong bench play from Maurice Evans and Pachulia. The Grizzlies cut the Hawks' lead to eight on two free throws by Gay, but the Hawks extended the lead to 62-50 at the half.

Pachulia led the Hawks in the first half with 13 points and nine rebounds, Johnson had 11 points and Evans added seven.
Already playing without Gasol, the Grizzlies' front line took a major hit when Randolph fell hard on his right lower back while trying to make a shot in the paint with 8:33 left in the first quarter. He was undercut by a stumbling Al Horford, then got up slowly.

Randolph limped off the court during a timeout, then returned to make two free throws. He struggled down the court on defense and asked to be taken out with 8 minutes left in the quarter. He walked to the locker room with medical staff.

Randolph returned to the game with about a minute left in the first, but appeared to have trouble jumping for shots and rebounds. He scored four points on 1-of-6 shooting, then did not return for the second half and was replaced in the lineup by Sam Young.

The Grizzlies honored former Memphis and Atlanta player Lorenzen Wright before the game with a moment of silence. Wright, a Memphis native, was found shot to death in a wooded area in July after being missing for 10 days. No one has been arrested.

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