Houston (38-38) at Memphis (39-37)

  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Tue Apr 6, 2010
  • TV: KTXH, FSTN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Houston Rockets are in position to sweep their season series against the Southwest Division rival Memphis Grizzlies, but they’ll likely need to break out of a defensive slump to do it.

The Rockets look to bounce back from their latest struggle on defense and finish the sweep Tuesday night when they visit the Grizzlies, losers of 12 of 15 in the series.

Allowing 102.5 points per game on the season, Houston (38-38) has given up 122.0 while dropping two of the first three games on a four-game road trip. After pulling out a 119-114 overtime victory in Boston on Friday, the Rockets gave up a season high-tying point total in a 133-102 loss to Indiana on Sunday.

“It was just embarrassing, an embarrassing loss,” said coach Rick Adelman, whose team allowed the Pacers to shoot a season-high 57.6 percent. “Once they got it going, we couldn’t do anything to stop it.”

Rookie forward Chase Budinger(notes) was again the bright spot for Houston, scoring 17 points in 28 minutes off the bench. He’s averaging 19.3 points and shooting 61.7 percent over his last four games, but he seemed as bewildered as Adelman after Sunday’s defeat.

“We had no intensity in this game,” Budinger said. “I couldn’t explain what it was.”

The Rockets could have an easier time slowing down the Grizzlies, whom they’ve held to 85.3 points per game while winning the teams’ first three meetings by an average of 18.7. Aaron Brooks(notes) scored 31 points while shooting 11 for 14 from the field and 7 for 7 from 3-point range in the last matchup, leading Houston to a 107-94 home victory March 17.

Memphis (39-37) has dropped four of five after falling 107-92 at Orlando on Sunday. Zach Randolph(notes) had 24 points and 18 rebounds, but the Grizzlies shot 40.0 percent and gave up 13 3-pointers.

“We played well and every time we got it close, they’d hit two or three 3s and run it back up on us,” coach Lionel Hollins told NBA.com. “We got it close and then finally we didn’t have another run left.”

That game was marred by a shoving match involving nearly every player on the court midway through the third quarter. Magic forward Matt Barnes(notes) was ejected for his role in the scuffle, and Grizzlies starters Hasheem Thabeet(notes) and O.J. Mayo(notes) were issued technical fouls, but there likely won’t be any suspensions.

Like the Rockets, the Grizzlies have fallen out of the playoff hunt, but they’re still trying for their first winning season since 2005-06. They have to win three of their final six contests to finish above .500 after posting a winning percentage below .300 each of the last three seasons.

Memphis’ turnaround is largely due to the addition of Randolph, averaging 20.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. The veteran forward had 30 points and 15 boards against the Rockets in March.

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Tuesday, Apr 6