Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/5

Game 1: Friday, November 5th
Game 2: Tuesday, November 9th
Game 3: Monday, January 17th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 13th

Grizzlies 87

(0-4, 0-2 away)

Rockets 90

(3-2, 2-0 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:30 PM ET, November 9, 2004

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    MEM 26 25 21 1587
    HOU 21 26 23 2090

    Top Performers

    Memphis: P. Gasol 15 Pts, 6 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    Houston: Y. Ming 14 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

    Howard picks up slack for Houston

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Tracy McGrady limped out of the arena with a sore right hip and groin Tuesday night, and his new teammates were more than a little worried.

    Not Juwan Howard. He got used to the sight of a hobbled McGrady last year in Orlando.

    Howard responded with 20 points, Yao Ming added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets kept Memphis winless this season, beating the Grizzlies 90-87 on despite losing McGrady to a hip injury.

    "When somebody goes down with an injury, you have to find other guys to step up," Howard said. "Tonight I guess you could say it's my turn."

    Playing only his second home game in Houston, McGrady left midway through the third quarter with a right hip strain and didn't return. He finished with 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

    The star guard winced in pain as he slowly walked out of the locker room, and said he wasn't sure if he would be able to play Thursday against Minnesota. McGrady said his hip and groin started bothering him during last Friday's game at Memphis and has only gotten worse since.

    "It really affected me tonight. It just completely took over my game," he said. "I have experienced it before. It's just got to take care of itself and I've got to try not to be Superman."

    McGrady played through a similar injury with the Magic last year, going scoreless in a December game against the New York Knicks. He missed 15 games last year with a variety of injuries.

    The sight of a limping McGrady was unnerving for many of his new teammates.

    "It's very troubling. He's our most important player," Yao said. "But Juwan put the pressure on his shoulders tonight."

    Howard, one of the forgotten players in the summer trade with Orlando that fetched McGrady, picked up the scoring slack in his teammate's absence.

    The Rockets' newest sixth man shot 7-of-12 from the field and made all six free throws, providing a timely boost on a night when Houston's preferred 1-2 scoring punch of Yao and McGrady was nowhere near peak efficiency.

    "I try to find ways to get into some rhythm," Howard said. "I'm coming off the bench and this is something new for me. I'm just trying to find my niche here and there."

    Houston also managed to overcome some extremely sloppy ballhandling, committing 24 turnovers that led to 26 points for Memphis.

    The Rockets have now won three straight since losing their first two games of the season in Detroit and Toronto. They've beaten the Grizzlies twice during that streak, sandwiching those wins around a victory over Sacramento on Saturday.

    The Grizzlies were clearly hurt by the absence of forward James Posey, a former Rocket, who missed the game with a sprained left foot. Shane Battier took his spot in the lineup, going 2-of-4 for six points.

    Stromile Swift led the Grizzlies with 18 points, Pau Gasol added 15 and Bonzi Wells had 13.

    Memphis continued its struggles on offense, making only 41 percent of its shots -- just slightly better than its average of 38.4 coming into the game.

    Swift broke the Grizzlies' five-minute shooting slump in the fourth, converting a three-point play with 2:08 left to draw Memphis to 87-83.

    But with the Rockets leading 89-86 with 3.9 seconds left, Gasol actually hurt the Grizzlies' chances by unintentionally banking in the second of two free throws.

    Memphis coach Hubie Brown cursed, and Gasol shrugged his shoulders.

    "I tried to miss it so we could get a long rebound," Gasol said. "But it went in by accident and it only left us a little time."

    And Brown was put in rather the ironic position of lamenting a made free throw.

    "Unfortunately," he said, sighing, "he made the basket."

    Game notes

    None of Houston's opponents this season have come into a game with a win. ... The Rockets have won 16 of 19 at home against Memphis. ... A portly male fan who began removing his clothes while on camera was escorted out of the arena during a timeout in the third quarter. Ushers arrived just as the man began taking off his pants.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 87 90
    FGM-FGA 27-66 (.409) 34-73 (.466)
    3PM-3PA 4-12 (.333) 5-13 (.385)
    FTM-FTA 29-34 (.853) 17-19 (.895)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-29 8-39
    Assists 19 20
    Turnovers 16 24
    Steals 15 7
    Blocks 2 2
    Fast Break Points 5 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (0/0) 27 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 10 9

    Top Performers

    Pau Gasol Gasol
    Points: 15
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 14
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2