Rockets-Grizzlies Preview

The Memphis Grizzlies have held their opponents largely in check during their hot stretch, though they may not be as fortunate if they let Chandler Parsons elude them for a second straight night.

Memphis looks to sweep its home-and-home set with the Houston Rockets on Saturday while winning for the seventh time in eight games.

The Grizzlies (21-20) rank fourth in the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of 96.3 points, and they’ve lived up to that reputation during their run.

They’ve held each of their previous seven opponents below their season averages, including in a 90-87 win over high-scoring Oklahoma City on Jan. 14 and in Friday’s 88-87 victory over Houston, which also ranks among the league’s scoring leaders.

Memphis has been able to maintain its solid defense despite Tony Allen missing the last nine games with a sprained left wrist.

Former Rocket Courtney Lee scored a team-high 19 points for Memphis, which won its first game against a Southwest Division rival after dropping its first 10 such matchups.

Lee is averaging 15.4 points in eight games since being acquired from Boston in a three-team trade Jan. 7. He’s started the last six.

"I’m super comfortable," Lee said. "From Day 1 when I came in, coaches told me to go out and play my game. Everybody that’s playing is on the same page. We’re just playing the right way."

Houston (29-16) was held 13.6 points below its average in Friday’s defeat and shot just 40.5 percent from the field. Parsons, though, had a career-high 34 points and hit each of his team-record 10 3-pointers in the second half.

His long-distance barrage set an NBA record for the most 3s in any half.

"I was pretty much unconscious. My body went numb," Parsons said. "I’ve never felt that feeling on a basketball court before."

Parsons is averaging 28.0 points and shooting 61.5 percent from 3-point range over his last three for Houston, which had won six of its previous seven overall and the two previous meetings with Memphis.

"It’s frustrating," said Parsons, who is shooting 63.2 percent in three games versus the Grizzlies this season. "At the end of the day, you want to win the game no matter how good or bad you play."

James Harden, who set a career high with 13 assists, shot 2 of 11 and finished with 10 points. The Rockets got nine points from Terrence Jones after he missed the previous two games with the flu and a deep thigh bruise.

Jones averaged 21.6 points and 12.2 rebounds in his five games prior to sitting out.

"Chandler kept us in the game," coach Kevin McHale said. "Otherwise, it would have been an 88-70 game."

Houston got 11 points and 12 rebounds from Dwight Howard, who wasn’t voted as a starter to represent the Western Conference in the upcoming All-Star Game.

He’s averaging just 9.3 points and 8.3 rebounds against Memphis this season.

"Of course there was a little disappointment with everything," Howard said. "Being on the All-Star team is a bonus and it’s a blessing to be a part of that group. But my goal is to win a championship, and that’s why I came to Houston."

The Rockets’ 93-86 road win over Memphis on Nov. 25 ended a five-game road losing streak to the Grizzlies.