Posted on January 14, 2017, by Travis Pulver
There is a trick to beating the Memphis Grizzlies that will sound very simple and easy to the fair-weather basketball fan–but is easier said than done. What is it? Easy, you must outscore them. It can’t get much more basic than that, right?
Basic—yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can be done easily. Heading into Friday night’s game against the Houston Rockets, teams had tried to outscore the Grizzlies and failed 17 times this season. During the first half of Friday evening’s game, it appeared as if the number was going to be 18 at the end of the night.
But then the Grizzlies did something few can do as good or better—they clamped down on defense in the second half.
They didn’t play much in the first half as the Rockets got out to a 64-51 lead after shooting 58.3 percent from the floor. But the second half was a completely different story. Houston shot just 26.1 percent making it pretty easy for the Grizzlies to overcome a 15-point deficit in the third quarter and win by five, 110-105 (ESPN).
James Harden led the way for Houston with 27 points and nine assists, but also committed seven turnovers and only scored two points in the final quarter.
“We just missed shots. That’s all,” Harden said after the game. “We make those shots we go up nine or it’s a different ballgame. But obviously, that’s a scrappy team.”
The Rockets got off to a bad start in the third quarter by missing 10 of their first 12 shots from the floor. Memphis slowly chipped away at the lead. With a little more help from Houston (five missed shots to end the third) they were able to cut the deficit down to two, 85-83.
Zach Randolph tied the game up for the Grizzlies early in the fourth period. The Grizzlies wouldn’t trail again after Troy Daniels made the first of two free throws around the 11-minute mark.
The win gave the Grizzlies their fourth win over the two of the top teams in the Western Conference. They beat Houston back on December 23, 115-109. Last Friday they took down Golden State in overtime, 128-119. Back on December 10, they beat the Warriors, 110-89.
“We’ve just got to start treating everybody like they’re those teams,” Memphis guard Mike Conley said after the game. “I think we get up for the good teams somehow and seem to lay eggs when we feel like we should win games…”
They’ll have to wait until February 6 to see if they can take down the No. 2 team in the West (San Antonio Spurs). The Grizzlies also have a win over the best team in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers (December 14, 93-85).
Houston had been riding a nine-game winning streak before losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night (119-105). With the loss to Memphis, the Rockets have their first losing streak of the season.
They will look to get back on the right side of the scoreboard Sunday when they travel to New York to take on the Brooklyn Nets, the worst team in the NBA (8-31).