Grizzlies 93, Rockets 81


HOUSTON (AP) – Mike Miller scored 25 points, Shane Battier hit his first eight shots and added 19, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Houston Rockets 93-81 on Saturday night.

Pau Gasol added 16 points and 10 rebounds for playoff-bound Memphis, which won for the sixth time in seven games and completed the franchise’s first season sweep of Houston.

Juwan Howard scored 16 points on 5-for-18 shooting for the Rockets, who’ve dropped seven of their last eight as they limp to the end of their injury-ravaged season.

Leading scorer Tracy McGrady, who has missed 32 games with a bad back, greeted his teammates in street clothes before the game. Fellow All-Star Yao Ming, who had surgery Friday on his broken left foot that will sideline him 4-6 months, was a no-show.

With two games left, Houston is already assured of its worst record since the 2001-02 team finished 28-54. The Rockets’ home record fell to 15-25, their highest loss total at home since the 1983-84 squad lost 30 during a 14-68 campaign.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, moved a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers in the race for the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Clippers play Seattle on Sunday.

Memphis built an early 12-point lead with a 14-3 run bridging the first and second quarters. Houston missed seven of eight shots during the spurt and trailed 29-17.

Stromile Swift, drafted by the Grizzlies in 2000, had a dunk, two baseline jumpers and a pair of free throws in a 14-2 run that got the Rockets back in it.

Rafer Alston beat the halftime buzzer with a driving layup to forge a 46-all tie at the break.

Eddie Jones sank a 3-pointer and Battier hit two from the corner as the Grizzlies rebuilt their lead in the third quarter. Battier added a hook in the lane, his eighth basket without a miss, to put Memphis up 67-59. He ruined his perfect shooting night a few minutes later, missing a 3-point attempt from the corner.

The Grizzlies still led 73-62 heading to the fourth after holding the Rockets to five field goals in the third.

The Rockets scored only 10 points in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota and struggled again in the final 12 minutes on Saturday.

Gasol and Miller scored inside and a bad pass by Swift led to a three-point play by Bobby Jackson that extended the lead to 18.

A hook shot by Dikembe Mutombo finished a quick 6-0 Houston spurt, but Miller swished a 3-pointer after a timeout and the poor-shooting Rockets got no closer than 11 after that.

Battier finished 8-for-11 from the field and Miller was 10-of-14. Both went 2-for-4 from 3-point range.

The Rockets shot 2-for-11 from 3-point range, dropping to 6-of-38 in their last three games.

Notes: For the fourth time in five road games, the Grizzlies wore the red, white and blue uniforms of the former Memphis Pros of the ABA. The Pros played in Memphis from 1970-72. The team was called the Tams from 1972-74 and the Sounds from 74-75. The Rockets wore uniforms from the 1993 season. … The Rockets dropped to 0-7 when neither McGrady nor Yao play.

AP-ES-04-15-06 2300EDT