MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Shane Battier enjoyed the standing ovation. He liked the victory even more.
Battier spent five seasons with the Grizzlies before he was dealt to Houston during the summer. The Grizzlies handed out posters of one of their most popular players before the game.
“I wanted to win this game and not for any revenge sort of reasons,” Battier said. “I had five great years here. It’s not about that. I wanted to get this team off to a great start and we’ve already surpassed the amount of wins we had in the Southwest Division last year. It was an important game for us.”
After going 1-15 against the Southwest Division last season, the Rockets are 2-0 against division rivals two weeks into November.
“That’s a big step being 2-0 in the division,” Tracy McGrady said. “But I’m kind of jealous of (Battier) that he can come back and get a standing ovation. I go to Orlando and Toronto and they kill (me).”
Yao scored nine of Houston’s first 10 points in the final period to help the Rockets withstand a comeback try by the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies, who never led in the game, cut a seven-point lead deficit to 72-71 on a one-handed slam by Dahntay Jones over Yao early in the quarter.
The Rockets (2-2) regrouped quickly as Yao hit two free throws, Luther Head made a 3-pointer from the left corner and McGrady sank two free throws for a 79-71 lead. McGrady later added a key three-point play, driving in from the right side and making the free throw for an 84-75 advantage with 1:19 left.
McGrady had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Rockets, who overcame 24 turnovers and 42 percent shooting. Battier added 12 points in 42 minutes.
“I’m not all that happy with (Battier) that he got out of here with a win,” Jones said. “But as far as the (standing ovation and poster giveaway), I can’t complain. He’s done so much for this franchise over the years. And his character, it’s amazing.”
The Grizzlies, playing without All-Star forward Pau Gasol, were unable to stop the Rockets’ interior game. Houston had 36 points in the paint and outrebounded the Grizzlies 45-33.
“The way we rebounded the ball was disgusting,” Jones said.
Memphis made a run to start the third quarter. Mike Miller hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 45-, but the Rockets answered with nine straight points, mostly coming off second-chance opportunities.
The Grizzlies trailed by 11 before Jones scored 13 of their final 16 points to trim a nine-point deficit to 45-39. Jones hit a fallaway 3-pointer in the left corner to end the half.
Swift, whose knee and ankle injuries forced him to miss most of training camp and the Grizzlies’ first three games, was activated before the game. Swift entered early in the first quarter. … Miller, the Grizzlies’ second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game, was held scoreless in the first half. He attempted only two shots in 16 minutes. He finished with 10 points. … Miller snapped his scoreless string with consecutive 3-pointers to open the third quarter, but was whistled for a technical foul after missing his third and complaining of a no-foul call.