Grizzlies 109, Rockets 86

Preview | Box Score | Recap

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—The Memphis Grizzlies are not only beating teams, they’re knocking them out early.

The Grizzlies sprinted to a 20-point lead in the first quarter Friday night and never let up, defeating the Houston Rockets 109-86.

“We made shots, and we got defensive stops, and that was big for us,” Memphis forward James Posey said. “We just ran off with it. If you’re hitting your shots, and on the defensive end, you’re getting steals, deflections and getting out on the break, you dictate your game.”

Stromile Swift had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Williams added 18 points as Memphis won its fourth straight game and 12th in its last 14.

The win, coupled with Dallas’ 119-118 overtime loss at Miami, left the Grizzlies two games ahead of the Mavericks for the fifth playoff spot in the West, and only one game behind San Antonio for fourth.

Five Grizzlies finished in double figures in a game so lopsided that most of the starters were on the bench for the final 10 minutes.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 29 points.

Steve Francis had 17 points and Yao Ming and Jim Jackson added 14 points each for Houston. Yao grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots, but was 5-of-13 from the floor in part due to the physical defense of Swift and center Jake Tsakalidis.

“I don’t think we pushed him around,” Swift said. “We just needed to get up and stay in front of him and not let him get the ball. He’s a load to handle, so we just tried to stay in front of him.”

Memphis, as it did Wednesday night against New York, got off to a quick start, shooting 75 percent in the first quarter. Bo Outlaw’s tip as the period ended gave the Grizzlies a 39-19 lead.

Memphis missed only two of its seven 3-pointers in the quarter, and for the game hit 10 of 19 from beyond the arc.

“I really don’t know what we did,” said Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley. “If I did, we would have stopped them. It just came so fast.”

It was the most points scored by Memphis in any quarter this season, and the most given up by the Rockets in a period.

The demoralizing part for Houston was shooting 56 percent in the quarter and trailing by 20. The Grizzlies outrebounded the Rockets 11-2 in the period.

“We really couldn’t get anything going inside, and that’s been our bread and butter, going inside and getting something going,” Francis said.

The Grizzlies led a 59-42 at the half and 86-65 going into the final period.

Memphis coach Hubie Brown his team’s halfcourt execution was as good as in any game this season. He noted that extra passes prevented the Rockets from getting to Memphis players defensively, providing open shots. And even the old coach was enjoying himself.

“It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it?” Brown said of the performance. “They were running tonight, and when they’re running like that, they’re fun towatch.”

Notes

Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy drew a technical from official Jason Phillips after arguing a call in the second. …Brown got a tech in the third courtesy of Derrick Stafford. …Before the game, Houston placed G/F Adrian Griffin on the injured list with a knee injury and activated G Mike Wilks. He played nine minutes in a mop up role, and scored five points. … Memphis won three games in the season series and is now 5-1 against Houston in Memphis. … Memphis is a league-best 32-2 when leading after three quarters. …The 103-pointers by Memphis tied a season high.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Houston
S. Francis S. Francis
6-11,  17 Pts
5 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Memphis
S. Swift S. Swift
8-16,  19 Pts
10 Rebs, 1 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists