Grizzlies-Rockets Preview

The Houston Rockets are looking to use perhaps their most

impressive victory of the season as a springboard to more

consistency – which has proven elusive of late.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies are hoping their recent wins

aren’t merely an aberration.

Houston seeks a 10th home win in 12 tries Thursday night against

the Grizzlies.

The Rockets (19-11) put together winning streaks of three and

five games last month but have been much more inconsistent in

December. They’ve alternated wins and losses in their last eight

games, though they were rather impressive in Wednesday’s 111-98

victory over San Antonio. They shot better than 52 percent for the

third straight game and were 12 of 24 from 3-point range.

James Harden scored 28 after missing two games due to an ankle

injury while Dwight Howard finished with 15 points and 20 rebounds.

Each of Houston’s three other starters also scored at least 13

points as the Rockets became just the fourth team to make more than

half its shots against the Spurs.

“I think we can be very good,” said Chandler Parsons, who went 5

of 9 from beyond the arc and scored 21. “It’s obviously a process,

and we’re getting better every single day. But when we defend like

that, rebound well and get out in transition, we’re tough to

beat.”

Houston raced out to a 27-9 lead and finished with 40 points in

the first quarter, tying its season high for the first 12

minutes.

“Our guys really came out on fire,” said coach Kevin McHale,

whose team recorded 28 assists compared to 11 turnovers for its

best assist-to-turnover ratio this season. “They were excited to

play. Really moved the ball; attacked.”

The Rockets were able to overcome a poor shooting performance in

their first meeting of the season with Memphis, taking a 93-86 road

victory on Nov. 25 despite a 6-of-24 mark from 3-point range.

Harden, who totaled 61 points in two home matchups against Memphis

last season, missed last month’s meeting with a sore left foot.

The Grizzlies (12-15) have managed to win consecutive games for

the first time in more than a month, though those victories came

against Utah and New York squads with a combined 17-42 record.

Memphis had dropped five straight prior to a 95-87 victory over the

Knicks on Saturday.

“We’re not going to pat ourselves on the back just yet,” Tony

Allen said. “Coming in, playing teams like New York and Utah, I

believe we’re supposed to get those wins. We did a good job of

doing that and now we’ve got a big test against the Houston

Rockets. Those are the ones we need to climb up in the

standings.”

Memphis is 5-9 since Marc Gasol went down with a sprained left

MCL and there still is no timetable for his return.

Other players have been banged up of late too, with Mike Conley

missing two games last week due to a thigh injury and Allen dealing

with a sore ankle. Tayshaun Prince is day-to-day after sitting out

the last three contests with a sore left knee. James Johnson is

listed as a probable starter for the third straight game.

Conley was just 2 of 14 from the field in the first meeting and

is shooting 36.1 percent over his last six contests versus

Houston.

The Rockets, who are 6-1 on the second night of back-to-backs,

had won 13 in a row at home against the Grizzlies prior to an 82-78

loss on April 12.