The Rockets had already defeated the Memphis Grizzlies twice this season, but this was the first time the Rockets played Memphis at home. The Rockets road woes are well-known. The O-fer the road string of losses is at an end, but the Rockets haven’t won in Memphis in roughly four years. Might that end tonight? It might and it did. The Rockets have now managed two wins on the road, though tonight’s contest was not not against a current major power of the NBA. That’ll be the next game, in Milwaukee.
The injury and suspension ravaged Grizzle did have two of their three best players available tonight in Desmond Bane and JJJ (Jaren Jackson Jr. to most, Jumbo Jackass Jr. to some). The other Grizzlers available put up a good fight tonight as well.
So good a fight that the Rockets didn’t get away with pressing the snooze button on the game alarm and sleeping through the first quarter. The Memphis Wombats (I’m going by their new mascot here. It doesn’t look anything like a bear; it’s far more like a wombat, which are a lot larger than you probably expect.) fought. My did they fight, they scrabbled and burrowed into the Rockets early in the first quarter. They used a combination of their mighty claws, good shooting and the shot clanking torpor on the part of the Rockets. At one point late in the 1st quarter Memphis lead 29-12.
The Rockets woke up soon after though, powered Tari Eason, the action man, and Jeff Green, the Avuncular Dunker. When those two step on the court, good things happen for the Rockets. Tari got rebounds (he’s possibly the best rebounder in the NBA in my estimation), made shots, and harassed Grizzlites all over the court. Uncle Jeff decided that best thing to do was stop shooting bricks, and cease hanging around in the paint until the entire Memphis defense collapsed on him, but to simply go hard at the basket. It worked. These two players helped commence a slow comeback for the Rockets.
It wouldn’t be easy though, the Gristlies lead by 10 points at the half. The Rockets proved fully awake in the second half, however, with better shooting, better defense, and keen awareness that an NBA game was taking place. The Rockets won the third quarter 30-19, and held a meager one point lead going into the final period.
How did they do this? Dillon Brooks, mainly. Dillon the Villon was 1-8 in the first half, with 2 points scored. The Villon was pure poetry (beatdown poetry) in the second half, though. He scored 24 points on 9-12 shooting, with only 4 free throw attempts in that tally. Brooks also defended Desmond Bane, and while Bane achieved his season average of 28 points, he wasn’t able to lead a Drizzlies comeback late, with Brooks guarding him.
Bane and JJJ almost did take the win for the Gizzards, as the game was tied at 94-94 with 1:51 left to play. Fred VanVleet made two clutch shots, and Dillon dropped a dagger three pointer while being guarded by Bane at 40 seconds left to take the score to 99-94. A pass to a fast breaking Tari Eason off a Brooks steal sealed the victory at 101-94, though Bane did make a late layup, and Jabari Smith made two free throws to bring the final score to 103-96.
Tonight the veteran Rockets made the difference, with Villon, Drake and The Avuncular Dunker leading the charge, while Sengun, Jalen Green, and Jabari (but not Tari) scuffled. While the younger players did struggle to make baskets, their efforts never waned on defense, or on the boards.
I think it would be helpful for all of us to not worry so much about seeing individual improvement game to game (let alone shot by shot) in the young players, but more that the entire team’s approach is one conducive to winning. For all the missed shots, for example, the Rockets didn’t give the ball away much, and a few of those were just bad luck on out of bounds plays. (Also that “Flagrant 1” called on Jabari Smith was a truly awful call after review. Ryan Hollins was correct, this would have been the perfect moment for the “Double Technical”, but no, the one time it actually made sense, they didn’t use it.)
The Rockets play the Grzzzzz, presumably with Ja Morant playing, one more time, in February, but the Rockets have already won the season series, taking the first three games. Frankly I won’t miss Memphis much, as with their injuries and suspensions Grit ‘N’ Grind has turned more into Whack & Whine, or Flail & Fall, as most of their highly touted brilliant developmental players don’t really seem to be at NBA level, or likely to be so.
NOTE: Memphis Griftle, give all the kids who did your stupid in-arena dance contest “Dippin’ Dots”. It’s “Dippin’ Dots”. How much could two more containers of those possibly cost? I’m not sure anyone is really a winner if that “treat” is involved, but don’t be stingy and small town. One guy won a year’s supply of local whiskey, but two kids can’t have “Dippin’ Dots”, only the “winner”?
- - Sorry for the score typo in the headline. Fixed.
Non Indigenous Animal O Meter
This poll is closed