The Rockets started their mini-winning streak on the road in Utah against a depleted Jazz team. After taking that one, plus the next two at home, the Rockets head back out to face the Grizzlies tonight, who are also depleted, playing without Mike Conley and Matt Barnes.
If the Rockets win, they'll find themselves at 20-19 and just a half-game behind Memphis for the sixth seed in the West, and, importantly, in position to avoid the Warriors or Spurs in the first round. The 4-5 matchup should be the Rockets' real goal, potentially avoiding any of the three best teams in the West.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Dwight Howard has feasted playing against teams with inferior interior presences. He's got five straight double-doubles and is key to the Rockets' improved outside shooting. No Mike Conley means Patrick Beverley should actually win a point guard matchup. Most importantly, this is another test of the Rockets' newfound defensive identity. If they want to keep grinding out wins, doing it against the grindmasters would be impressive.