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Game Preview: Grizzlies face Rockets, again

Memphis hopes to keep Houston at .500 with a win on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.

Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

It's still strange talking about a Rockets-Grizzlies game without Shane Battier involved in some way?

The 18-6 Memphis Grizzlies, fresh off their win over the Mavs, visit the 13-12 Houston Rockets on Saturday night. Houston, too, is coming off a win, beating the Philadelphia 76ers at home. The difference? that was back on Wednesday. Getting off to a good start will be tough for the Grizz on this second game of a back-to-back, against a team still motivated by their loss on Nov. 9th in Memphis.

Tony Allen gets little time to celebrate his defensive effort vs O.J. Mayo (10 pts on 3/11). Tonight, TA faces off against the Euro-steppin' James Harden. Lionel Hollins said following their first meeting that "Tony Allen did a great job on him (Harden) and kept him out of his rhythm." Memphis needs more of that on Saturday.

Another matchup to watch is at small forward. Chandler Parsons is a long and disciplined defender, who also has the ability to explode for a big night himself...just ask Carmelo Anthony. Chandler has shown he can rise to the occasion, individually. Rudy Gay is gonna have to bring it.

The key to this matchup, and the game over all, is controlling the tempo. Houston gained confidence recently on their East Coast trip, and it has created an improved offensive flow for Kevin McHale's boys. They comfortably scored 105 against Philly this week in their last win. Houston basically starts a pick-setting seven-footer with 4 perimeter guys. Going a long way in controlling the tempo will be Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph pounding the glass. That'll slow Omer Asik from out-letting to his guards and also hinder the smaller Marcus Marris from leaking out downcourt.

The Grizzlies, and their new all-time assists leader Mike Conley, will have a hard time beating the Rockets for a second straight time this season. I'm not sayin' they'll lose...I'm just sayin'.

(For the Rockets' side of the story, check The Dream Shake. Or look for Memphis Grizzlies tickets.)