Apparently fourth time's not the charm. Last night the Grizzlies lost their 4th and final meeting with the Houston Rockets, which means that they've lost to their closest rival in the rankings in all 4 games this season.
Coach Lionel Hollins did appear to try to shake things up a bit, switching defensive assignments on the undersized - but quicker - Rockets. He played Darrell Arthur and Zach Randolph together often, but that hardly helped matters. With Thabeet and Haddadi in the Rockets bigs scored and wings shot jumpers, with the centers out the basket wasn't protected.
Kevin Martin was particularly strong in this one, scoring 29 points and holding O.J. Mayo to a career low 4 points - he simply looked too big and too strong for Mayo to handle. Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks also both added 17 and Jordan Hill continued his strong second half of the season, getting 12 points with 9 rebounds in just 16 minutes.
The Grizzlies hardly had a standout performer. Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph both scored right around their averages, Hasheem Thabeet matched O.J.'s 4 abysmal 4 point output, though Sam Young did manage to get 16 points by attacking the undersized Houston defenders.
Even though this game was closer than the others, it still serves to expose the weaknesses in the Grizzlies roster. OJAM can't guard large shooting guards like the 6'7" Martin, Thabeet can't guard anyone down low, and nobody defends particularly well to make up for those deficiencies.
And until those problems are worked out, the Grizzlies will keep getting swept by teams like the Rockets.