Grizzlies-Rockets Preview

The Associated Press

The Houston Rockets are looking to use perhaps their most impressive victory of the season as a springboard to more consistency - which has proven elusive of late.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies are hoping their recent wins aren't merely an aberration.

Houston seeks a 10th home win in 12 tries Thursday night against the Grizzlies.

The Rockets (19-11) put together winning streaks of three and five games last month but have been much more inconsistent in December. They've alternated wins and losses in their last eight games, though they were rather impressive in Wednesday's 111-98 victory over San Antonio. They shot better than 52 percent for the third straight game and were 12 of 24 from 3-point range.

James Harden scored 28 after missing two games due to an ankle injury while Dwight Howard finished with 15 points and 20 rebounds. Each of Houston's three other starters also scored at least 13 points as the Rockets became just the fourth team to make more than half its shots against the Spurs.

"I think we can be very good," said Chandler Parsons, who went 5 of 9 from beyond the arc and scored 21. "It's obviously a process, and we're getting better every single day. But when we defend like that, rebound well and get out in transition, we're tough to beat."

Houston raced out to a 27-9 lead and finished with 40 points in the first quarter, tying its season high for the first 12 minutes.

"Our guys really came out on fire," said coach Kevin McHale, whose team recorded 28 assists compared to 11 turnovers for its best assist-to-turnover ratio this season. "They were excited to play. Really moved the ball; attacked."

The Rockets were able to overcome a poor shooting performance in their first meeting of the season with Memphis, taking a 93-86 road victory on Nov. 25 despite a 6-of-24 mark from 3-point range. Harden, who totaled 61 points in two home matchups against Memphis last season, missed last month's meeting with a sore left foot.

The Grizzlies (12-15) have managed to win consecutive games for the first time in more than a month, though those victories came against Utah and New York squads with a combined 17-42 record. Memphis had dropped five straight prior to a 95-87 victory over the Knicks on Saturday.

"We're not going to pat ourselves on the back just yet," Tony Allen said. "Coming in, playing teams like New York and Utah, I believe we're supposed to get those wins. We did a good job of doing that and now we've got a big test against the Houston Rockets. Those are the ones we need to climb up in the standings."

Memphis is 5-9 since Marc Gasol went down with a sprained left MCL and there still is no timetable for his return.

Other players have been banged up of late too, with Mike Conley missing two games last week due to a thigh injury and Allen dealing with a sore ankle. Tayshaun Prince is day-to-day after sitting out the last three contests with a sore left knee. James Johnson is listed as a probable starter for the third straight game.

Conley was just 2 of 14 from the field in the first meeting and is shooting 36.1 percent over his last six contests versus Houston.

The Rockets, who are 6-1 on the second night of back-to-backs, had won 13 in a row at home against the Grizzlies prior to an 82-78 loss on April 12.