The Houston Rockets made their case as the best team in the Western Conference by convincingly ending the Memphis Grizzlies five game winning streak with a 105 - 96 win. The final score understates what a blowout this was behind double figures from every Rockets starter.
The Rockets ignored injuries to Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverley by starting Jason Terry, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Donatas Motiejunas and Tarik Black. This five beat the Memphis Grizzlies out of the gate building and holding an unimaginable 20+ point for the length of the third quarter forcing the Grizzlies starters from the game.
The Grizzlies came into the game with two days of rest at the tail end of a long road trip. The rest did the Grizzlies no favors as Coach Joerger pulled Randolph and Gasol with three minutes left in the third quarter. He had no option after Tarik Black pulled down his eighth offensive rebound giving the Rockets a 26 point lead on a transition three point play from Harden.
Subsequently Harden was pulled from the game right before Tarik Black recorded his first career double-double. Stop hyperventilating. It happened. The first person to call him the next Andris Biedrins will be mocked.
The Grizzlies look like title contenders with their 15 - 3 record (even after the loss) and will continue dumbfounding the NBA with a passable impression of the 2004 Detroit Pistons. Tonight though, impressions were not enough as James Harden, Donatas Motiejunas, Jason Terry, Trevor Ariza, Tarik Black and Joey Dorsey stole the Grizzlies identity by scrapping, scratching and hustling this victory.
Harden: 21p 4r 4a 3s
Terry: 16p 3r 5a 4s
Ariza: 16p 7r 3s
Motiejunas: 15p 7r 2a
Black: 10p 11r
Marc Gasol won the tip and the Grizzlies torched the Rockets early for an 8 - 0 lead on 4-4 shooting. They continued their perfect shooting for a few minutes to maintain a 16 - 8 lead. It proved to be the beginning of the of the end for the Grizzlies.
Jason Terry shot the lights out in the first quarter while D-Mo put moves on everyone in the low post and James Harden did "beard things." The result was a double digit lead that never dissipated even with Nick Johnson and Francisco Garcia both touching the court in the first quarter.
Rockets three point shooting went cold in the second quarter, but a family affair brought buckets from Garcia, Kostas Papanikolaou and Dorsey contributing to a 12 point halftime lead 58 - 46.
Memphis is known for being a "Grindhouse" but in the first half the Rockets pulled down more offensive boards and forced more turnovers. The Rockets led at the half by 12 while shooting a lower first half percentage than the Grizzlies. The difference came from shot opportunities as the Rockets took more shots and scored on transition points. The Memphis big men got what they wanted when they were left open, but were being hustled hard by an almost unrecognizable Donatas Motiejunas, Joey Dorsey and Tarik Black, yes I just wrote that sentence.
Ummmm... did you see that third quarter sequence where James Harden blocked Zach Randolph from behind giving Trevor Ariza a wide open transition three? Cause that happened. It put the Rockets up 22 points.
Yeah -- That felt good.
The story of this blowout may be best expressed by these stats:
Zach Randolph: 19 minutes
Marc Gasol: 25 minutes
Tony Allen: 15 minutes
James Harden: 28 minutes
Jarnell Stokes: 12 minutes (Who's this guy?)
The Rockets blowout became clear in the third quarter as Zach Randolph hit the bench followed by Marc Gasol and James Harden. Fuck, even Donatas Motiejunas was pulled from the game it was such a blowout.
The Rockets scrubs let the Grizzlies draw the lead closer than deserved. The Rockets bench gave up a 10 - 0 run to close out the game. Troy Daniels missed all his shots and the Rockets ended up shooting only 44% from the field.
Clint Capela checked in with four minutes left and impressively missed six shots with no makes, including two missed free throws. With the exception of en emphatic block he looked nervous.
Jason Terry scored six of the Rockets first eight points, starting in the place of an injured Isaiah Canaan who was starting in the place of an injured Patrick Beverley.
Tonight the Rockets needed a throwback dose of Jason Terry offense in the opening minutes of the game. His early eight points powered the Rockets through some minutes where Harden was playing off the ball. The following three quarters were nothing worth noting, but the fact Terry provided six minutes of pure offense bode well for a playoff team that has to put James Harden on the bench at some point each night.
Less mohawk and more beard. D-Mo had his best game last season against the Grizzlies. He played so well that Dwight Howard stayed on the bench for most of the fourth quarter as D-Mo went Twilight Zone by out-rebounding and out-scoring Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. I'll bet he watched the film of that game before taking the court tonight.
D-Mo dropped solid offensive moves on Zach Randolph & Kostas Koufous in the post while putting a body on Marc Gasol and forcing multiple turnovers. Straight up, D-Mo looked like he belonged on the court tonight. The Motiejunas spells of hesitance and timidity were nowhere to be seen. His early play lead Matt Bullard to proclaim, "D-Mo needs to start expecting a double team."
We're going with "thunderous" over "competency since Dwight Howard's injury" to describe a dunk from Joey Dorsey. D-Mo caused a turnover that led to this Vine:
It didn't end there. On back to back plays in the second period Joey Dorsey put the Rockets up 40 - 28 with a blocked shot and put back jam.
Shut it down. Shut it down.
Random Game Notes
- Tarik Black had 9 offensive rebounds.
- Joey Dorsey was three for three from the field.
- Clint Capela was the opposite of good. He missed six field goal attempts and two free throw attempts in four minutes of play. Good jorb, that guy.
- Clyde Drexler pronounces Joerger as "you-grr." DON'T CARE!