Game: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (14-14), Houston Rockets ( 16-12)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Houston – Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert
Memphis had its two game winning streak snapped against Utah Sunday night on national TV and need a win in this game to avoid a losing record in their longest home streak of the season. Standing at 14-14 the Grizzlies remain at .500 on the season while awaiting the return of last season’s star Zach Randolph.
Memphis has already defeated Houston once this season, a solid 20 point victory back on Dec. 30th, using a dominating 3rd quarter performance to pull away to the easy win. In the game the Grizzlies hit an amazing 56% of their field goal attempts. Baskets have been much more difficult lately for the Grizzlies. However, despite the team’s struggles offensively since Randolph was injured the Grizzlies have a winning record without their leader (13-11).
The Grizzlies are just a game behind Portland for the 8th and final playoff spot and only 3 games behind 5th place in the conference. A win against the Rockets would also improve the Grizzlies divisional record to 3-3 in the tough Southwest Division. To get there the Grizzlies will need significant contributions from certain players including Marreese Speights, who has been averaging a double-double in the last three games, Rudy Gay (the Grizzlies are 10-4 when Rudy scores 20 or more points) and Mike Conley (2nd in the league in steals).
Josh Selby was assigned to the D-League yesterday to allow him more playing time to develop.
Houston has traditionally had a lot of success against the Grizzlies but has a losing record in Memphis (8-13). The Rockets currently tied for 5th place in the tight Western Conference right with the Lakers and Nuggets. A loss could drop the surprising Rockets all the way to 8th place with Portland hosting the Washington Wizards tonight. After tonight’s game the Rockets begin a 6 game home stand.
The Rockets leader is still Kevin Martin who has killed the Grizzlies in the past, averaging 31.3 points last season including a remarkable 41 for 41 exhibition from the line. Former Grizzlies PG Kyle Lowry has dished out 8 or more assists 15 times this season and the Rockets are 9-6 in those games. Lowry is the only player in the league averaging at least 14.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 7.5 APG and 1.75 SPG.
However rebounding could be the key tonight. The Rockets have out-rebounded their last three opponents by more than 10 boards each. The Rockets will look to control the boards once again while also getting off to a quick start, something the Grizzlies have struggled with of late. The Rockets are 9-3 in games when leading after the 1st quarter while just 7-9 in games where they were behind after the first 12 minutes.
Prediction: Memphis ends their longest home stand since 2008 with a hard-fought win.