Rockets-Grizzlies Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 08, 2012
The Memphis Grizzlies have been on a roll since a season-opening defeat. The Houston Rockets appeared to be getting on one too, until they played at home. The Grizzlies can match the best five-game start in franchise history Friday night when they host the Rockets, who have a chance to open 3-0 on the road for the first time in 16 years. With three straight wins, Memphis needs one victory to equal the club's best start set in 2000-01 when it was based in Vancouver. All-Star center Marc Gasol leads the Grizzlies with 19.3 points per game and is second on the team with 7.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Memphis is getting other production from throughout the lineup, with seven players scoring at least 6.8 points per game and four averaging 5.5 rebounds or more. The Grizzlies had a season-high 28 assists in a 108-90 road win over the Bucks on Wednesday and Mike Conley recorded 12 - also his best total so far. "We moved the ball, we got everybody involved,'' Gasol said. The Rockets' inability to do that in two straight home games led to a pair of losses. Houston (2-2) had a season-low 18 assists Wednesday in a 93-87 defeat to Denver. "These last two games we haven't had ball movement, we haven't had body movement, we're not cutting, the ball's sticky - just a lot of stuff that we've got to correct," coach Kevin McHale said. "The bottom line is we have to correct it." That could happen as the Rockets' new-look lineup meshes over time. Newly acquired James Harden leads the league with 30.3 points per game, but he struggled in the last two contests after a spectacular start. The guard totaled 82 points and went 28 for 44 from the field during the 2-0 start, but has scored 39 and shot 13 for 39 over the past two. He had 15 points Wednesday. "As the games go on, we'll get better,'' Harden said. "We haven't played together. We didn't have a training camp or have time to really put in some sets, so we're kind of just figuring things out as we go.'' Harden may face a tough challenge in getting back on track Friday, as he'll likely be defended by Tony Allen. A member of the NBA all-defensive first team last season, Allen helped the Grizzlies hold Bucks star Monta Ellis to 15 points and 5-of-18 shooting Wednesday. "I don't really want any kudos. It's just what I do," Allen told the league's official website. Memphis, winner of 12 in a row at home, won by a total of 30 points in taking both matchups with Houston at FedExForum in 2011-12. The Rockets, though, have averaged 107.0 points during their undefeated road start. They last opened 3-0 away from home in 1996-97, when they took their first eight road contests. Houston is shooting just 40.7 percent from the field, but is among the NBA leaders with 50.5 rebounds, 16.8 offensive boards and 15.0 second-chance points per game. Rockets center Omer Asik is averaging 14.0 boards, while the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph leads the NBA with 15.3 per contest.
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