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Grizzlies 103, Rockets 94

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- After losing three of their last four games -- all road losses -- the Memphis Grizzlies re-discovered their magic formula Friday night.

Homecourt plus ball movement plus balanced scoring led to a 103-94 victory over the Houston Rockets before a sellout crowd of 18,119.

With the fifth-place Western Conference Grizzlies (48-24) trying to re-gain fourth place and homecourt advantage in the playoffs, Memphis started the night hitting six of its first nine shots and never dipped under 50 percent from the field.

Zach Randolph shook his recent slump supplying 21 points and 12 rebounds, and fellow postman Marc Gasol also had 21 points.

Mike Conley also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Tony Allen had 16 points, Jerryd Bayless added 14 points off the bench and Tayshaun Prince had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Houston (39-33), which rested its starters the entire fourth quarter, was led by Chandler Parsons and Donatus Montiejunas, who scored 16 points each.

From the opening tip, the Grizzlies quickly got into their offensive sets, patiently executed their offense.

The Grizzlies led by as many as nine points, before the Rockets got a couple of consecutive defensive stops. Houston kept trying to guard Randolph with various rookies, and he took all of them to school, scoring 11 points in the opening period when Memphis shot 60 percent from the field.

The Grizzlies edged to a 61-53 halftime lead, finally getting some breathing room in the final six minutes of the quarter.

That's when Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins kept backup point guard Bayless on the floor with the starters and moved him to shooting guard to give the Grizzlies some extra scoring punch. The Grizzlies also kept exploiting a matchup that found Houston's 6-foot-6, 230-pound Carlos Delfino try to guard the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Randolph in the post.

The Grizzlies began torching the Rockets in transition midway through the third quarter in establishing an 84-69 lead at the end of the period. When Prince went coast-to-coast on a drive, Houston coach Kevin McHale disgustingly called a timeout.

Houston managed to cut the Grizzlies' lead to nine points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. McHale elected to keep his starters on the bench the rest of the night.

NOTES: Gasol is playing with abdominal tear he re-aggravated March 22 in New Orleans. The Grizzlies need Gasol in the lineup, because the team's two best playmakers are Conley and Gasol. "We play through Marc a lot," Hollins said. "He initiates a lot of our post play. We get the ball to him at the elbow and he makes passes to the post. In pick-and-roll, we throw the ball to him and he makes the right read coming out of that. We have other guys are finishers. Marc is a playmaker." ... Guard James Harden, in his first year with Rockets after being the third cog in the Oklahoma City scoring machine behind Kevin Durant and Michael Westbrook, has been every bit as good as expected as a starter. He is averaging 26.2 points per game, fifth in the NBA. He also is second in the NBA in free throws made and second in attempts (609-of-710, 85.8 percent), fifth in steals (1.987) and fifth in minutes played (38.5). Allen, considered one of the NBA's best perimeter defenders, got the duty of guarding Harden. "Playing against one of the best defenders in the league makes me step up my game even more," Harden said.
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