Rockets Fall Short in Comeback Attempt

By Michael Ma

April 12, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) reacts after being fouled against the Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Rockets 82-78. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets had beaten the Memphis Grizzlies 13 straight times in Houston.  That all ended Friday night when the Grizzlies held on to a 82-78 win despite a comeback charge by the Rockets, marking Memphis’ first win at Toyota Center since 2006.

Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Zach Randolph scored 15 points.  Memphis took a 49-30 lead late in the second quarter and it seemed like the wheels would be falling for Houston.

Led by James Harden, who had 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, and Jeremy Lin, who added 17 points, the Rockets began to comeback, eventually tying the game at 66 with 9 minutes left.

With the Grizzlies leading 80-78 with 6 seconds left, Harden faked out Tony Allen at the top of the key to get a clear shot that would have sent the game into overtime.  Harden missed, and two free throws by Tayshaun Prince sealed the win.  After being credited with a game-winning shot at the buzzer, as Phoenix Suns center Jermaine O’Neal was called for goaltending Tuesday night, Harden finished the game just 7 for 24 shooting.

“They are a very good team,” Harden said. “We can’t look to score 130 points a game. We’ve got to find ways to score when we don’t score 100 or 110 points.”

The Grizzlies’ top-ranked scoring defense stifled Houston most of the night. The Rockets, the NBA’s highest-scoring team, went 23 of 73 from the field (31.5 percent) and committed 20 turnovers.

Chandler Parsons missed his fourth consecutive game, but expects to play in at least one of the remaining three regular season games.  Carlos Delfino, who had missed the last 4 games, played 15 minutes and was scoreless.

Even with the loss, the Rockets are just ½ game behind the Golden State Warriors for the 6th seed.  Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have the same record as the 3rd place Denver Nuggets, with Denver owning the tiebreaker.  With just days left in the regular season, a lot of shifting can happen between now and next weekend.  This game very likely was a preview of a first round matchup.

The Rockets will play their final home game Sunday against the Sacramento Kings.