MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Memphis Grizzlies' new wide-open style
under coach Lionel Hollins is starting to pay off.
O.J. Mayo scored 32 points and the Grizzlies held off the
Houston Rockets 104-93 on Wednesday night for their second straight
The Rockets closed to 97-93 with just over 4 minutes remaining,
but Mayo scored on a drive and hit a 3-pointer, and Memphis held
on. On Monday night, Mayo scored 33 points in the Grizzlies' 113-97
win at Washington.
The Grizzlies are 2-3 under Hollins, who took over after the
firing of Marc Iavaroni on Jan. 22. The last few games, Memphis
seems to have a renewed enthusiasm.
"Guys are really starting to get comfortable in our new
offense, and the way that we're running things," said Mike Conley,
who has taken over the starting job at point guard. "It shows when
guys are making extra passes and getting guys open."
Rudy Gay had 18 points and nine rebounds for Memphis, and Hakim
Warrick finished with 17 points on 6-of-9 from the floor and had
eight rebounds. Marc Gasol and Conley had 10 points apiece, and
Conley also had nine rebounds and seven assists. Gasol recorded
Several Rockets pointed to the Grizzlies 48-32 advantage in the
paint as representative of their poor defense and a key factor in
"That's what really hurt us," said Rockets center Yao Ming,
who had 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. "Every
basketball player knows how important paint-scoring is. We ended up
giving them too much."
Tracy McGrady led the Rockets with 21 points. Rafer Alston added
15 points and six assists.
Houston had won its last 14 games in February before Wednesday
night. The Rockets last loss in February was Feb. 28, 2007 against
Memphis' points-in-the-paint advantage was only one example of
spotty defense by the Rockets. Yao noted the Grizzlies taking open
3-point shots, and almost matching the Rockets in second-chance
points. Others noted a lack of consistency.
"I think there is something wrong," McGrady said. "We do it
in spurts. We really need to come back like we did in the fourth
quarter with that energy because we could have laid down."
Another problem for the Rockets was a less-than-healthy Yao, who
left the game in the third quarter with an upset stomach. He
returned midway through the final period, but was struggling
because of the illness.
"I just cannot stay out there," Yao said, still looking
uncomfortable in the locker room. "It slowed down in the
beginning, and I was trying to hang in there. It really hurt me and
hurt the team. When I slow down, I can't guard people."
The Grizzlies hit six of their first seven shots in the second
half and, when Mayo and Conley connected on consecutive 3-pointers,
Memphis pushed its lead to 15.
The Grizzlies didn't let the lead get under double digits in the
third, and carried an 88-74 advantage into the fourth.
Houston started making its move with about 8 minutes remaining
and trailing by 15. The Rockets went on a 10-1 run, fueled by a
pair of 3-pointers from the top of the key by Shane Battier, and
another long-range basket from Von Wafer.
The Rockets eventually got to 97-93 with 4:16 left when Yao
scored inside and then added a pair of free throws. But with Mayo's
scoring, the Rockets wouldn't get closer as the Grizzlies shot 53
percent, including 50 percent on 8-of-16 outside the arc. The
Rockets shot 40 percent on the night.
"I just thought it took us until the fourth quarter to really
start having some energy and defending," Rockets coach Rick
Adelman said. "We just didn't defend them very well in the first
half, especially at the start of the game."
And while it is only two consecutive wins, Memphis players are
starting to recognize the payoff for extra work and a more open
"We're confident," Mayo said. "We're doing a great job in
practice, working hard and focusing on getting better.
"It's baby steps. Put together two straight wins, and
hopefully, we can keep it rolling."
Notes: Milicic returned after missing 18 games with a fractured
right (non-shooting) hand. Memphis was 2-16 during the 7-footer's
absence. ... Memphis had not won at home in a month, a streak of
seven straight losses since the Grizzlies beat Dallas 102-84 on
Jan. 4. ... The Rockets were playing the second of five consecutive
games against sub-.500 teams before the All-Star break.
The Grizzlies next game is against the Toronto Raptors at FedExForum Saturday night.