Regular Season Series (Game 3 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

Rockets 80

(20-18, 7-10 away)

Grizzlies 99

(21-18, 13-8 home)

    7:00 PM ET, January 17, 2005

    FedExForum, Memphis, TN

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 25 22 13 2080
    MEM 25 29 19 2699

    Top Performers

    Hou: T. McGrady 28 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl

    Mem: S. Swift 18 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Memphis wins 9th out of 10 games

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Stromile Swift went over the 7-foot-6 Yao Ming for a powerful dunk, setting the tone for the Memphis Grizzlies' dominating night.

    Swift scored 18 points and Jason Williams added 16 to lead the Grizzlies to their ninth win in 10 games, 99-80 over the Houston Rockets on Monday.

    "If I get the ball deep in the post, I try to go up on anybody," the 6-9 Swift said. "I just tried to use my quickness to get around him. I know he's long and big, so I just try to go up and dunk it hard."

    Swift connected on six of nine shots as Memphis moved ahead of the Rockets by a half game for third place in the Western Conference's Southwest Division. The dunk on Yao midway through the opening period brought towel-waving and whoops from the Grizzlies on the bench. And Rockets leader Tracy McGrady knew it was inspiring.

    "That lit a fire under them right there," said McGrady, who led all scorers with 28 points. "That was the difference in the game. They had energy, and we didn't."

    Pau Gasol scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Shane Battier and James Posey each scored 10 for the Grizzlies.

    David Wesley finished with 13 points for the Rockets. The loss snapped Houston's four-game winning streak.

    "We struggled hitting our shots, and they did a good job defending us from getting quality shots," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said.

    Swift scored nine points in the first 6 minutes of the final period, when Memphis built its lead to 20 and never led by less than 15 the rest of the way.

    The Grizzlies used a 10-0 run over the first and second quarter to build a 54-47 halftime lead. Memphis shot 64 percent in the first period and hit its first four shots of the second quarter.

    Memphis increased its lead to 10 points in the second quarter, but the Rockets went on a 7-0 run behind six points from McGrady. Houston's leading scorer had 17 points in the first half.

    Memphis opened the second half with another 10-0 run to build its biggest lead of the third quarter 64-47, and maintained a 73-60 advantage going into the final period.

    The Grizzlies' reserves outscored the Rockets' 44-18 for the game.

    "We got a big lift from our bench," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. "They gave us energy all night. We got a lot of productivity from a lot of people."

    Despite not even being the halfway point of the season, both teams recognized the importance, since they could end up competing for playoff position. The Rockets had won the first two games of the series.

    "Memphis was right on our tails, and we're in the same division," McGrady said. "This could have been the game that closed out the series."

    Memphis reserve Bonzi Wells said the Grizzlies needed to send a message that they could play with Houston. They also didn't want to be down 0-3 in a season series in case a tiebreaker became a factor. The last game in the series is April 13 in Houston.

    "All that comes into play," Wells said. "I know we're not thinking about playoffs right now, but in my years in the league, you can't let those games get away and you always want to be at least 2-2 with a team in case it comes down to it."

    Game notes

    This is the third year Memphis has played at home on Martin Luther King Day. The civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968 on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, less than a half mile from the FedExForum. ...The game was broadcast by TNT, where both coaches have worked as analysts. "I'm not sure I'm happy with the crew we have broadcasting the game," Fratello said in his pregame media session with former partner Marv Albert standing in the back of the room. "That will be determined on postgame analysis and evaluation." ... Wells got a technical in the second period for arguing after a foul call. .. .Officials reviewed Gasol's tip-in at the end of the third quarter before ruling that it went in before the buzzer. ...Williams hit all three of his free throws and has 22 straight. His last miss was Dec. 17 against the Nets. ... Yao fouled out with eight points in 24 minutes.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 80 99
    FGM-FGA 28-72 (.389) 34-67 (.507)
    3PM-3PA 6-19 (.316) 8-24 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 18-21 (.857) 23-34 (.676)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-32 9-39
    Assists 17 22
    Turnovers 14 13
    Steals 4 8
    Blocks 5 6
    Fast Break Points 6 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 23 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 6 21

    Top Performers

    Tracy McGrady McGrady
    Points: 28
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0
    Stromile Swift Swift
    Points: 18
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1