Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/10/12
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay looked at the stat sheet and noticed he and fellow forward Zach Randolph had another poor shooting performance on Friday night. And the Grizzlies are 4-1. "Yeah, think about it," said Gay, who still managed a team-high 21 points in the Griz's 93-85 victory over the Houston Rockets. "Our bench has picked us up every game. They brought high energy, but they have played real controlled and knocked shots." Besides Gay, only two Memphis starters - Randolph and Mike Conley with 15 points and 14 points, respectively - scored in double figures. But the Memphis bench held a 29-15 edge over the Rockets' reserves, led by guard Wayne Ellington, swingman Quincy Pondexter and forward Mareese Speights. Ellington, acquired in a July trade with Minnesota for Dante Cunningham, had 12 points in almost 18 minutes off the bench. He has quickly learned the Grizzlies' grit-and-grind style. "I've learned since I've been here that it's a really unselfish group of guys," Ellington said. "When we bring it in (for the huddle), we say `One team, one goal.' Our motto is to grind it out." It's a style that serves the Grizzlies well, especially in games like Friday's, when they never shot above 40 percent. Despite finishing 37.2 percent from the field, they limited the Rockets to 40.8 percent from the floor and caused 20 Houston turnovers that coverted to 27 Grizzlies' points. Forward Chandler Parsons led Houston with 19 points, and guard Jeremy Lin made some nice defensive plays to finish with 15 points and pull the Rockets within two points at 87-85 with 2:23 left. But the focal point of the Grizzlies' defensive plan was Rockets' guard James Harden, acquired in a trade from Oklahoma City on Oct. 27. Harden, probably the league's best sixth man in his first three seasons with the Thunder, entered Friday's game averaging a league-leading 30.3 points. Starting with Griz defensive stopper Tony Allen, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins kept fresh bodies on Harden, who scored just six of his 18 points in the second half. "Tony did a great job early and got him out of rhythm," Hollins said of Allen, who helped hold Harden to 4-of-18 field goal shooting. "I think if guys get off early and they get going, they're in for a big night. Tony didn't let that happen." Rockets' coach Kevin McHale said poor spacing offensively and lack of ball movement was too much to overcome. "We weren't moving the ball, so we weren't moving their defense," McHale said. "Teams are going to lock in on James and try to get the ball out of his hands. We've got to adjust to that and have more movement on the clock." After the Rockets led 46-42 at halftime, the Grizzlies opened the second half with 12-2 run, thanks to a very aggressive Gay. It looked like he and the rest of the Griz were intent on attacking the basket after Memphis just 2-of-3 from the free throw line in the first half. Gay, in particular, feeling he had a slight muscle advantage on Parsons, seemed like he was going at the rim every chance he got. With Grizzlies' swingman Allen blanketing Harden - he didn't score in the third period - the Rockets had to look elsewhere for points to stay in the game. That's when Parsons stepped in, scoring 12 of Houston's 22 points in the quarter. "We have just got to get open for each other," Parsons said. "Right now, it's hard to score and hard to run our offense." Notes: The Grizzlies' 4-1 start is their best through five games since the 2000-01 season, the franchise's final year in Vancouver before moving to Memphis. . .Houston entered the night as the NBA's most turnover-prone team (19.8) and the Griz forced 20 Rockets' turnovers. . .Memphis had a season-high 14 steals and outscored the Rockets 21-5 in fastbreak points. . .Griz forward Randolph had his fifth straight double-double game, 15 points and 14 rebounds. "I'm not hitting shots, but I'm rebounding and doing all the little things," Randolph said. . .Houston cut the lead to 76-75 with 7:46 left in the fourth, but Memphis responded with its largest run of the game, 11 straight points. . .The Grizzlies' bench scored 13 of the team's 24 fourth-quarter points. . .Memphis now has won a franchise-record 13 straight regular-season home games. That may end Sunday afternoon when the defending NBA champion Miami Heat play at the FedExForum.
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