Rockets 88, Grizzlies 80

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HOUSTON (AP)—The longest winning streak in the Western Conference doesn’t belong to the Memphis Grizzlies anymore. The Houston Rockets stole that distinction away.

Jim Jackson scored 20 points and hit a crucial running jumper with 50 seconds to play as the Rockets won their fifth straight game, 88-80 over Memphis on Saturday night to snap the Grizzlies’ seven-game winning streak.

Jackson had 10 points in the fourth quarter when the Rockets committed eight of their 17 turnovers and had their 12-point lead cut to six on two occasions.

“He’s been doing this for a long time,” James Posey said. “They put the ball in his hands and he put the nail in the coffin. He made some big shots in the fourth quarter.”

The Rockets worked hard to beat the Grizzlies for the first time this season.

“That’s a team that beat us twice, and plus they’re playing the best since the All-Star break,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of reasons why we really had to walk in and win this game.”

Houston built a 78-64 lead early in the fourth quarter, its biggest of the game, but the Grizzlies cut it to six points on two occasions, the last with 2:11 to play on a basket by Pau Gasol.

Jackson’s jumper made it 84-76, and he also hit two free throws with 28 seconds to play and two more with 14 seconds to go.

“He knows when he has to step up,” Yao Ming said. “He’s over 30 years old and has played in the NBA over 10 years and he knows what he has to do.”

Yao had 17 points and 11 rebounds and blocked a shot by Gasol with 44 seconds to go.

“I’m happy with the win, but I also know things never stay the same in this league,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “You have to have an urgency. Our team in particular has to compete at a high level. There’s no room or margin for error.”

A victory would have assured the Grizzlies of their first winning season.

“Yao Ming is the second-best force in the game and Steve Francis is one of the top guards, so they should be pretty good,” Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown said. “I like what they’ve done with their defense. They’ve won some big games recently.”

Stromile Swift led Memphis with 19 points and Bonzi Wells added 16.

The Grizzles cut Houston’s 52-41 halftime lead to 63-56 with 4:30 to go in the third quarter, but the Rockets built it back to a 70-58 lead on a quick run of a basket by Maurice Taylor and a driving layup and 3-pointer by Jackson.

The Rockets were trailing 28-25 early in the second quarter when they went on an 18-4 charge. Scott Padgett came off the bench to score eight points in the run.

Cuttino Mobley, who broke out of a shooting slump in the previous game with 31 points, added seven in second quarter to help the Rockets get their 52-41 halftime lead. Mobley finished with 15 points.

“We’re just trying to get to the playoffs the best way possible,” Mobley said. “That’s a good team, they play hard and they’re scrappy. They got away from us twice this year and we’ve still got to go up there, but it’s going tobe fun.”

Notes

Houston F Clarence Weatherspoon did not play because of a left calf strain. … The Rockets complete a five-game homestand Monday and then will play 11 of their final 16 games on the road. … The Grizzlies are 14-8 in games decided by five or fewer points. … The Rockets are 29-6 when leading after the first quarter. … Prior to this season’s breakout, the Grizzlies’best season was last year’s 28-54 record.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Memphis
J. Williams J. Williams
4-10,  9 Pts
3 Rebs, 7 Assists
 Houston
J. Jackson J. Jackson
6-15,  20 Pts
5 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists