By Clay Bailey/The Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies only needed a short trip home to return to their style of play.
Randolph and Marc Gasol scored 21 points apiece and the Grizzlies snapped a two-game losing streak with a 103-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
For Randolph, who also grabbed 12 rebounds, it was a bit of redemption after the Grizzlies’ loss in New York on Wednesday when he was limited to three points, part of why Randolph averaged only 10.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in the previous four games
“Man, it’s an 82-game season,” Randolph said when asked about the slump. “Even MJ (Michael Jordan) had bad games. It’s just part of it.”
Tony Allen scored 16 points, connecting on 8 of 12 shots, and Mike Conley finished with 15 points and 10 assists for Memphis. Reserve Jerryd Bayless added 14 points and Tayshaun Prince finished with 10.
Allen also had a strong defensive effort in limiting Rockets’ star James Harden, who came into the game fifth in the league in scoring with a 26.2 average, to seven points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“I don’t want to take all the credit,” Allen said. “Obviously, it’s what I do. I’m a lock-down defender. I got to credit the bigs. They were helping me in the pick-and-rolls. Mike Conley and Tay (Prince) were in help when he was trying to drive, and for the most part, we tried to keep him off the line. . My teammates were there for me in the right moments, and we were able to contain him to single digits.”
Chandler Parsons and Donatas Motiejunas led the Rockets with 16 points apiece, despite not playing in the fourth quarter as Houston coach Kevin McHale used his reserves to try to put more pressure on the Grizzlies defensively. Carlos Delfino had 15 points and James Anderson added 10 for Houston, which dropped its second straight game.
“We made more mistakes defensively than we have been doing,” McHale said. “Guys were trying to be aggressive on a couple of things, and we got really distorted defensively. We made too many mistakes defensively, especially early.”
The victory came after Memphis had lost two straight on the road, at Washington and New York, and the team left immediately after the game for a Saturday night game at Minnesota. The Grizzlies have won 11 straight at home.
“It’s always good to be able to be back home and win, especially after we lost a couple of games on the road,” Gasol said. “… Offensively, I think we did a good job 70 percent of the game, 30 percent we didn’t do so good, but we got the win, and it was good to be home, even for a day.”
Gasol and Randolph led Memphis’ inside dominance with the Grizzlies holding a 56-46 advantage in the paint and outrebounding the Rockets, 42-35.
Memphis opened the second half with a 19-10 spurt to take an 80-63 lead, its biggest of the game. Memphis turned up the defense from the start of the half after Allen got a steal on the Rockets’ opening possession and broke free for a dunk, and the first double-digit lead of the game.
Gasol had eight points in the quarter as Memphis outscored Houston 23-16 in taking an 84-69 advantage into the fourth quarter. Memphis dictated the pace, and its defensive intensity was leading to points.
“The Grizzlies took entire control of the tempo,” Rockets guard Jeremy Lin said. “When they played us earlier in the season, we had control of the tempo. We took away their first options on offense. However, they still had open cutters and had open 3-point shots.”
In the fourth, it was the Rockets’ reserves who were applying the defensive pressure, leading to an 8-2 rally, fueled by four Memphis turnovers. That cut Houston’s deficit to single-digits. Anderson and Delfino both had four points in the push.
But Memphis answered quickly, extending its lead as Randolph began working inside, scoring six straight points and the Grizzlies regained the momentum.
Memphis maintained the double-digit advantage until Anderson’s jumper in the closing seconds provided the final score.
“A nine-point, 10-point lead with a team like Houston is nothing,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of playing his starters until the end. “They hit three 3s, and they’re back in the game.
“I wasn’t taking them out until I was sure we had the win. . I never want to take guys out and lose a game because I took them out too early. I would rather take them out too late.”
Both teams shot well early. Memphis was at 60 percent after the first quarter, while the Rockets were at 55 percent, including connecting on 5 of 8 outside the arc.
Those trends continued through the half as Memphis shot 62 percent to take a 61-53 lead into the break.
The Rockets dropped a bit on field goal percentage, but still connected on 7 of 16 from long range.
Randolph, putting the slump behind him early, already had 15 points at the half, matched by 15 from Parsons.
Memphis would end the night shooting 51 percent, while Houston connected on 42 percent.
“The more we play together, and the more we hang our hats on the defensive end and pound it inside, that’s who we are,” Allen said. “That’s how we got the notoriety.”
NOTES: Friday’s game at Memphis was the Rockets’ only road contest in a 10-game stretch. Houston finished 5-2 in its previous seven games, all at home. The Rockets play their next two back at the Toyota Center against the Clippers and the Magic. … The Rockets have lost five straight in Memphis. … Memphis entered the game having given up an average of 107 points in its last three games. … The Grizzlies announced the game as a sellout, the fifth home game sold out this year. Memphis is 5-0 in sellouts. … Memphis is 22-1 when scoring 100 points.