Rockets surge past Grizzlies

Phil Stukenborg, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Despite the Houston Rockets falling behind by 14 early in the third quarter -- and playing their third straight game without leading scorer James Harden -- forward Chandler Parsons never doubted the Rockets' ability to recover. Such has been the mindset during the team's recent streak.
The Rockets got 17 points from Parsons and 16 from reserve forward Omri Casspi to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies, 93-86, on Monday night at the FedExForum. Casspi had 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and Parsons scored nine in the final frame to pace the comeback, which gave the Rockets (10-5) their fifth win in six games. The Rockets scored 38 points in the final period.
"We're having fun, we're just playing loose," Parsons said. "The spacing has been really good. We're playing unselfish. We're not caring about our stats, we're just trying to play for each other and get the best possible shot. If it works out, we're going to keep going to that guy. Like we've seen, it can be a different guy every single night."
The Rockets opened the fourth by regaining the lead for the first time since the opening minutes. A 14-2 run to start the final period put the Rockets ahead 69-65. Reserve guard Francisco Garcia led the run with six points, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 65.
Rockets center Dwight Howard had 15 points and seven rebounds, but did not play in the final quarter. Houston guard Jeremy Lin added 14 points, but played only 2:40. Instead, Rockets coach Kevin McHale went primarily with a lineup that included Parsons, Casspi, guard Pat Beverley and Garcia.
"I thought our guys (Howard and Lin) needed a rest, and we just kept trying to find a lineup that would really click," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "That last lineup we had out there did a really great job. They took care of the boards and did a great job defensively.
"Omri Casspi (was) moving without the ball, Cisco (Garcia) made a big three and really defended well, Patrick made some big shots and Chandler was big. That lineup had some rhythm and we just went with them."
The Grizzlies were led by forward Tayshaun Prince, who had 16 points. Memphis point guard Mike Conley, averaging a career-high 19.5 points, struggled with his shot. He went 2-for-14 and finished with 10 points and a season-high 10 assists. Guard Tony Allen finished with 15 points.
"They just turned into a different team once they sat their starters," Allen said. "Those guys (drove) the basketball. They got to our soft spot, which is the paint. They drove and kicked the ball. They made plays."
Both teams were affected by the loss of their key player. The Grizzlies played without center and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, who injured his knee last week and is out for an indefinite period. Harden, who has a 24.2-point average, is nursing a foot injury.
Houston outshot Memphis, 49.3 percent to 41.5 percent, and grabbed 43 rebounds to the Grizzlies' 35. Kosta Koufos, Gasol's replacement at center, pulled down 13 rebounds, but the Grizzlies couldn't overcome a flurry of second-half mistakes and the Rockets' fourth-quarter shooting (14-of-20).
"We gave up 18 points in the second half off of turnovers," said Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. "They are really good. They've got shooters everywhere."
Leading by 12 at the half, the Grizzlies quickly upped their advantage to 46-32 and 48-34 before the Rockets slowly closed the gap. The closest the Rockets got in the third period was 59-52 after two free throws by Lin.
The Grizzlies used a 10-0 to close the second quarter and build their biggest lead at 44-32. Forward Zach Randolph (13 points) scored twice in the paint, and Allen added two fast-break layups to power the run.
The Rockets shot only 34 percent in the first half and were 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. The Grizzlies shot 42 percent before the break.
NOTES: Grizzlies C Marc Gasol spoke for the first time since being diagnosed with a left MCL sprain sustained in Friday's home loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Gasol, who played in 239 of 243 games with the Grizzlies since the beginning of the 2010 season, said he would spend at least the next three to four weeks on crutches and be evaluated on a daily basis afterward. He said his intention was to return before two months, the time required for teammate Quincy Pondexter to return from a similar injury last year. ... The Grizzlies had won their previous five home meetings with the Rockets, dating to Dec. 3, 2010. . . . The Grizzlies have lost three straight at home for the first time since November 2010.

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