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Houston Rockets vs. Memphis Grizzlies game preview

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The schedule finally caught up the Rockets and handed them a loss. It happens. Time to move on.

The Memphis Grizzlies come into tonight’s game in the seven spot in the Western Conference standings. After a month of staying in and around the four seed despite tons of injuries, the Grizz’s schedule caught up to them a bit. They’re 5-5 in their last 10 games, but four of those five wins came against the Rockets, Jazz, Thunder, and an incredible comeback win against the Warriors. Most recently, they lost a tough contest in OKC and gave up a triple-double to Russell Westbrook. Also of note is that Memphis is undefeated in their Southwest Division games at 4-0, but have not played San Antonio yet at all.

Houston, for their part, have not lost back-to-back games all season. Tonight will be a tough test for that streak. The Grizzlies are a matchup nightmare for virtually every team in the league, and for the shorthanded Rockets it will be even more apparent. Eric Gordon is still questionable with a sprained toe, Patrick Beverley is playing with one hand, and Clint Capela’s return is still a few weeks away at the earliest.

Of course, Memphis has no sympathy for a team dealing with injuries as they dealt with a bunch early this season, plus an extended absence by Zach Randolph after his mother passed.

If you remember the first matchup between these teams, you’ll remember that Houston finished with a high percentage from 3 (39%), but that a bunch of those makes came late when the game was decided. Ryan Anderson should 8-14 from deep, but the rest of the Rockets combined to go 12-38. Memphis shot 51% overall and 52% from deep in that game.

That night was a rare instance for Houston where their bench was thoroughly outplayed at the hands of the Grizzlies reserves. Vince Carter killed the Rockets like he always does, and James Ennis couldn’t miss. Z-Bo did his thing, getting layups and putbacks. Even Andrew Harrison, who spent most of the night looking like a JV player that suddenly got called up to the varsity, finished with a +14. Troy Daniels had a quiet night (5 points on one shot), so it’s scary to think that the bench attack could have been even greater.

So what does Houston need to win this game? It’s the same formula as every night:

  1. Make your threes.
  2. Defend the three point line and the paint as well as you humanly can with the size disadvantages.
  3. Hope the other team doesn’t go unconscious from deep.

Houston got 13 of the formula last time. Tonight they’ll need at least two of the factors to have a shot.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT.

For an opponent’s perspective, check out Grizzly Bear Blues.