Despite being significantly short-handed in their most recent game, the Houston Rockets added to their string of high-scoring efforts and extended their winning streak to three.
Given Memphis’ struggles with Southwest Division foes, a home-and-home series would appear to give Houston the opportunity to keep rolling, but the Grizzlies are likely eager to get back in the groove Friday night after having its season-best win streak snapped.
Houston (29-15) had nine players in its rotation Wednesday against Sacramento but routed the Kings 119-98. Dwight Howard scored 26 points and James Harden had 24 while playing just the first three quarters.
The Rockets scratched Ronnie Brewer because of a sore calf, Terrence Jones (bruised thigh) sat out his second straight contest and Francisco Garcia (knee) missed his third in a row.
"We’ve had a lot of guys hurt, lot of guys down. Whoever is out there is playing hard and is playing for his teammates and that’s what makes you successful," said forward Omri Casspi, who had season highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes off the bench.
Jones was averaging 21.6 points and 12.2 rebounds in the five games before his injury, and he scored a career-high 36 in a 114-104 win over Milwaukee on Saturday. The forward averaged 10.1 points and 7.0 rebounds in his first 34 games this season.
Chandler Parsons contributed 19 points after scoring a season-high 31 in a 126-113 win over Portland on Monday.
Parsons has been the third-leading scorer (17.1 points per game) behind Harden (25.1) and Howard (19.8) in helping the Rockets win eight of 10 this month and average 119.7 points during their three-game win streak.
The Rockets haven’t needed nearly as much scoring in their two wins over the Grizzlies this season. Memphis (20-20) has averaged 89.0 points in those games, its fewest against any opponent it has faced more than once.
Houston also managed to earn both wins with Howard and Harden facing limitations in each matchup. Harden missed a 93-86 victory in Memphis on Nov. 25 because of a sore left foot, and Howard was limited to two points and six rebounds in a 100-92 home win Dec. 26 due to foul trouble.
The Rockets rallied in the fourth quarter to earn both wins, scoring a combined 72 points in that period.
This time, Houston will face a Memphis team that had its five-game win streak snapped with a 95-92 defeat to New Orleans on Monday. Zach Randolph had 23 points and a season-high 20 rebounds as the Grizzlies remained the NBA’s only winless team in divisional play (0-10).
Memphis is averaging 88.8 points in its last four games but managed to keep its win streak going by allowing 84.7 per game in its previous three contests.
"We had a good thing going," point guard Mike Conley said. "The schedule is not going to get any easier. We’re coming up against a tough stretch, and we have to get focused again.
"We have to get ready for a very good Houston team."
A visit to Houston – where it’s dropped 14 of 15 – wouldn’t appear to give Memphis the best chance to bounce back. The Grizzlies, winners in nine of 13 on the road, registered that lone victory April 12.
Houston and Memphis will finish up their two-game set Saturday night at FedExForum.