MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Yao Ming scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Houston Rockets over the Memphis Grizzlies 86-80 Tuesday night.

Yao scored nine of Houston’s first 10 points in the final period to help the Rockets withstand a comeback try by the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies, who never led in the game, cut a seven-point lead deficit to 72-71 on a one-handed slam by Dahntay Jones over Yao early in the quarter.

The Rockets (2-2) regrouped quickly as Yao hit two free throws, Luther Head made a 3-pointer from the left corner and Tracy McGrady sank two free throws for a 79-71 lead. McGrady later added a key three-point play, driving in from the right side and making the free throw for an 84-75 advantage with 1:19 left.

McGrady had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Rockets, who overcame 24 turnovers and 42 percent shooting. Former Grizzlies forward Shane Battier, the franchise’s most popular player, added 12 points in 42 minutes.

Memphis (1-3) was led by Stromile Swift, acquired in the trade for Battier. He scored 15 points.

The Grizzlies, playing without All-Star forward Pau Gasol, were unable to stop the Rockets’ interior game. Houston had 36 points in the paint and outrebounded the Grizzlies 45-33.

Memphis made a run to start the third quarter. Mike Miller hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 45-, but the Rockets answered with nine straight points, mostly coming off second-chance opportunities.

The Grizzlies trailed by 11 before Eddie Jones scored 13 of their final 16 points to trim a nine-point deficit to 45-39. Jones hit a fallaway 3-pointer in the left corner to end the half.

Notes: Swift, whose knee and ankle injuries forced him to miss most of training camp and the Grizzlies’ first three games, was activated before the game. Swift entered early in the first quarter. … Miller, the Grizzlies’ second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game, was held scoreless in the first half. He attempted only two shots in 16 minutes. He finished with 10 points. … Miller snapped his scoreless string with consecutive 3-pointers to open the third quarter, but was whistled for a technical foul after missing his third and complaining of a no-foul call.

AP-ES-11-07-06 2306EST



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