Memphis Grizzlies Maul Houston Rockets for Second Divisional Win

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets might prefer to run into an actual grizzly bear rather than the team they played tonight.

Grizz nation, I hope you DVR'd this one. In what might be their best all-around game of the season, the Grizzlies reduced the Houston Rockets to shreds on the second night of a back-to-back home-and-home with the 8th seed set clearly in their sights. For the second night in a row, they held a team averaging nearly 110 points per game to well under 90. Tonight, they poured their offense on the Rockets like hot lead from a castle tower.

First Half

The game opened at a quick up-and-down pace but neither team shot well to start. The Grizzlies hovered around 20% for most of the quarter but played great defense against Houston's shooters and took a 16-14 lead at the end of one. Things heated up in the second when Chandler hit his first three, but the Grizzlies started pulling away (weird, right?) when Miller, Johnson, and even Nick Calathes hit threes of their own. The Rockets responded to get within two against Memphis' bench unit, but the Grizz maintained their lead by frustrating Dwight Howard into foul trouble and lucking out on Houston's bad three-point shooting (3-15). They ended the quarter strong on an 11-2 run and took a 46-35 lead into halftime.

Second Half

The Grizzlies quickly pushed the lead to 14 out of halftime and maintained it throughout the quarter, playing classic Memphis defense and getting great games out of Calathes, Courtney Lee, and Kosta Koufos. What was most impressive, and what's hard to describe, is the chemistry that was on display in this quarter especially: ball movement, off-the-ball cuts, perfectly timed help defense - everything was clicking for the Grizzlies tonight.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Nick Calathes stole the ball and payed it off with a Johnson-assisted layup on the other end to give Memphis its largest lead, 73-54. A few minutes later, Mike Conley hit back-to-back triples to make it an 80-60 game and force a Kevin McHale timeout, after which the lead bloomed to 90-63, with the Grizzlies scoring on nearly every possession. Eventually Joerger rested the starters and the beating subsided. With a few garbage time threes, the Rockets cut the final score to 99-81.

Let Me Paint You A Statistical Picture

  • James Johnson: 12 assists, 4 steals, 8 assists, 0 blocks
  • Kosta Koufos: 7 of 8, 14 points
  • Nick Calathes: 11 points, 3 steals
  • Courtney Lee: +20 in the +/-
  • Grizzlies in Double Figures: 6
  • Zach Randolph: 15 and 17, tying Pau Gasol's mark for most double-doubles in franchise history. Memphis against Southwest Division opponents: 2-10

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