The Rockets lost their sixth straight without their leading scorer Friday night, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies 86-81. Houston is 0-7 when McGrady’s bad back keeps him out of the lineup.
“He’s our main guy,” Yao Ming said. “He shoots very well and passes it around and runs our offense. (Without him) teams can double-team me without any trouble. They don’t have to worry about anyone else scoring.”
Shane Battier scored 20 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to lead Memphis. Battier was 9-of-17, grabbed seven rebounds and had three blocks as Memphis snapped a two-game losing streak.
“He had it going,” Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. “He would not let us lose the game. He did everything we asked, from making every shot we asked to blocking shots on the other end.”
Reserve Derek Anderson led six Rockets in double figures with 16 points. Yao finished with 15 points, 10 in the final period, and 12 rebounds.
Head’s 3-pointer with about 18 seconds left got the Rockets within 84-81, but Houston could get no closer as Stoudamire hit his free throws.
“Every time we’re in the locker room we say the same thing—we played hard and we worked hard,” Wesley said. “Whatever. We lost another one.”
The game was tied at 37 at halftime after a sloppy first half. The Rockets scored the first 11 points, with Wesley making a trio of 3-pointers as the Grizzlies collapsed on Yao and left guards open.
The Rockets had 11 turnovers in the half and Memphis had eight. The Rockets finished with 19 turnovers, leading to 20 Memphis points.
“Not to take anything away from the Grizzlies, but these are self-inflicted losses,” Rockets reserve Jon Barry said. “We turned the ball over so much.
“Everything you can imagine happening bad has happened to us.”
Memphis held Yao to one point in the first half and he missed all four of his shots from the field. But Grizzlies leading scorer Pau Gasol had only two points and finished with nine. It marked the first time Gasol has not scored in double figures this season, but he tied his career high with eight assists.
While Yao had a strong fourth quarter, many of the Grizzlies praised the defensive play of Lorenzen Wright for holding the Rockets center below his 18.3 point average. Yao shot 4-of-13.
“With Yao, most of the time, he gets that ball down low and it’s automatic,” Wright said. “I just really wanted to concentrate on not letting him touch it. I know if he touches it, there’s nothing I can do.”
McGrady has missed the last four games. Ryan Bowen, averaging 1.5 points, has replaced McGrady in the lineup, a difference of 20 points on the offensive end. … Houston G Rafer Alston also missed his fifth game with a hairline fracture of his right leg. … Memphis G Mike Miller left the game in the first quarter with a head laceration and concussion after colliding with Bowen. …There was some internal bantering in the Grizzlies’ locker room over the finals of the NIT Season Tip-off. Wright and backup PG Antonio Burks played at the University of Memphis, while Battier and G/F Dahntay Jones are Duke alums. …The game marked the return of Rockets F Swift to Memphis. Swift was the Grizzlies’ first-round pick, and second pick overall, in the 2000 draft. He signed with the Rockets as a free agent during the offseason. He was the last of the Vancouver Grizzlies to leave Memphis.