By rule, the Grizzlies had to play three more quarters after ending the first tied with Houston and what transpired during the rest of the game amounted to a losing effort at the FedExForum on Thursday night.
With fans – 1,762 of them – allowed into the arena for the first time this season because of COVID-19 protocols, Memphis fell to the Rockets 115-103, absorbing a second straight loss after a 7-game winning streak.
By halftime, Memphis, which was tied with Houston at 27 at the end of the first quarter, trailed by 13 (60-47). Down by as many as 25 points after the break, the Grizzlies were only able to get within 11 points twice in the third quarter and never got the deficit below 10 in the final frame.
“They were switching screens and doing things a little differently than other teams we have seen,” said Desmond Bane, who scored a career-high 16 points for the Grizzlies in his sixth straight double-digit scoring game.
“We have seen switches in stretches, but Houston likes to do that through the entirety of the game. I think it kind of just through our rhythm off and we never really just got in rhythm.”
Memphis’ offense tends to be triggered by its defense. Houston did not allow the Memphis defense to get any type of traction. The Rockets connected on 19 shots from three-point range, with some amounting to second- chance points.
Reserve Memphis guard Tyus Jones, who had 13 points and eight assists, said he was not sure what has ailed the Grizzlies defense during the last two games.
“We’ll have to take a look at the film and figure it out,” Jones said. “Winning games comes on the defensive end for us and we see what happens when we’re not locked in on that side of the ball. We have to figure it out.”
- Memphis rookie Xavier Tillman Sr. grabbed 10 rebounds, his career high.
- The Grizzlies’ Ja Morant, who had 15 points and four assist, was listed fourth in All-Star voting among Western Conference guards, trailing Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard. All-Star voting is open until February 16. The NBA is eyeing a March 7 All-Star game.
- Memphis was again without the services of Jonas Valančiūnas and Grayson Allen. Both were on the bench but were withheld because of the league’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
- Memphis (9-8) will travel to New Orleans for the first time this season on Saturday (Feb. 6), with tipoff against the Pelicans set for 7 p.m.
- The Grizzlies will get a Feb. 28 rematch against the Rockets in Houston on February 28.
- Memphis will host the Toronto Raptors on Monday ( Feb. 8) at 7 p.m.