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Grizzlies post back-to-back wins over Rockets

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On a night when the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Houston Rockets for the second time in 24 hours and won for the seventh time in their last eight games, it was only fitting that power forward Zach Randolph tied the franchise record for double-doubles.

The Grizzlies (22-20) beat the Rockets 99-81 on Saturday night at the FedExForum behind Randolph’s 15 points and 17 rebounds. It was Randolph’s 189th double-double with the Grizzlies, tying Pau Gasol for the franchise record, and his 26th this season.

It was a symbol of the way the Grizzlies are playing — like the physical, defensive-minded team that last season made a run to the Western Conference finals.

“We’re as close as we’ve been (this season),” said Memphis point guard Mike Conley, who led the Grizzlies with 17 points. “We’re not all the way there, but we’re making huge strides.”

Randolph took the same attitude about tying the franchise’s career double-double record.

“It feels good. It’ll feel better when I hold the record,” he said. “We’re playing physical basketball, 48 minutes, grit-and-grind.”

The Rockets (29-17) appeared to want no part of it. On Friday night in Houston, forward Chandler Parsons tried to take care of things single-handedly. He set an NBA record with 10 second-half 3-pointers on the way to scoring a career-best 34 points.

Parsons didn’t fare so well Saturday, going 1 of 6 from long distance and finishing with 11 points. The Rockets shot just 37 percent (30 of 81) from the field.

Parsons said the Grizzlies had much to do with that.

“Their pace works for them,” he said. “They make you play a half-court offense. They’re physical. They grab. They reach. They hold. When you do that so much, they’re not going to call every single foul. They are very scrappy, good one-on-one defenders and their post defenders are very strong.”

The Grizzlies had a huge edge in assists (23-14) and scored 20 points off 15 Houston turnovers. The Grizzlies also owned the boards 52-38 and outscored the Rockets 56-32 in the paint. Memphis shot 46.6 percent from the field (41 of 88).

The Grizzlies led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Rockets never got closer in the final 12 minutes than the 71-54 margin that Memphis had to open the quarter.

Houston got 16 points from guard James Harden and 10 points and 12 rebounds from center Dwight Howard.

The Grizzlies are 5-1 since center Marc Gasol returned to the lineup after missing 23 games with a knee injury. His stat line wasn’t that impressive – six points and five rebounds – but Memphis coach Dave Joerger says that doesn’t begin to tell the story.

“He’s Defensive Player of the Year for a reason,” Joerger said. “He quarterbacks our whole defense. He gives Zach a lot of support. He helps our guards a lot. We’re able to jump into a different coverage because of his IQ.”

The Rockets’ 81 points were the second-lowest total of the season.

“We have to learn to move the ball and get everyone else going,” Houston guard Patrick Beverly said. “Other than that, I think we’re going to be fine.”

Parsons, looking ahead to their next two games, said, “We can’t let Memphis beat us in the San Antonio game, in the Dallas game.”

Shooting guard Courtney Lee added 15 points for Memphis. Off the bench, center Kosta Koufos had 14 points and seven rebounds, James Johnson chipped in 12 points and a team-high eight assists, four rebounds and four steals. Point guard Nick Calathes had 11 points and three steals.

“It starts with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph,” Johnson said. “When you see those two banging down there, playing physical, making hard fouls, getting fouled hard, it is just easy to follow.”

NOTES: Not only did F Chandler Parsons set a career high with 34 points and 10 3-point baskets on Friday night in the loss to the Grizzlies in Houston, he raised some other standards, too: the NBA record for most 3s in a half, the Rockets’ franchise record for 3s in a game and the Grizzlies’ opponent record for 3s in a game. “He got on one of those rolls,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. … From Dec. 21 through Jan. 24, Memphis won 11 of 16 games and ranked fifth in the NBA in winning percentage (.688) and fourth in point differential (plus-4.8). … Only Warriors F David Lee (79) has more double-doubles than Houston C Dwight Howard (77) and Memphis PF Zach Randolph (70) since the start of last season. … In two games against Memphis this season, Rockets G James Harden was averaging 18.5 points on just 20.0 percent shooting from the floor.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair

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If James Harden needed any extra motivation against the Los Angeles Clippers, he found it in the first half.

Harden scored 34 points, and the Rockets held on for a 100-98 victory over the Clippers in a sometimes testy affair on Sunday at Staples Center.

Point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points, missed a contested shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.

“It was very important for us just to go out there and play well,” said Harden, who hit seven of 16 shots from the floor, three of five from 3-point range and 17 of 18 free throws. “The last two games we kind of struggled a little bit, but we got our pop back a little bit today, and it was a good win for us.”

Harden provided much of that pop, particularly in the second quarter after Clippers forward Matt Barnes was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after pushing Harden to the court at 6:02. Harden scored 15 of his 18 points in the period after that, leading the Rockets to a 58-50 halftime lead.

Did the flagrant foul add more fuel for the Rockets’ All-Star guard and MVP candidate?

“Yeah. Things like that are fun,” said Harden, who had 24 points in the first half. “We have fun, we got boosted off of that.”

The win ended a two-game skid for the Rockets (44-22). Houston forward Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while forward Terrence Jones added 16 points and 12 boards.

“This was a win that we needed, especially on the road,” Ariza said. “Going into the home stretch, these are the types of games we have to win.”

Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin returned after missing 15 games due to surgery on his right elbow. Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but committed five turnovers in 41 minutes.

“I didn’t think I played well,” said Griffin, who managed 4-of-10 shooting. “I was out of rhythm. Way too many turnovers, obviously.”

Barnes scored 19 points and guard J.J. Redick had 15 for the Clippers (42-24), who fell into a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings with the Dallas Mavericks.

Paul lamented a host of turnovers in the defeat, including a critical one involving center DeAndre Jordan.

“I had some bad turnovers,” said Paul, who committed three of the Clippers’ 20 miscues compared to 13 for the Rockets. “On one, I drove it off DeAndre’s foot, the other one I lost towards the end of the half. We have to take better care of the ball. We still had an opportunity to win, but we just didn’t do it.”

The Clippers came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Paul scored seven straight points, capping it with a 3-point basket to tie the score at 96 with 3:05 left in the game. Houston got a 3-pointer by Jones, but Barnes countered with a basket to keep Los Angeles within 99-98 with 1:35 left. Los Angeles, though, never scored again.

Griffin got a steal as Ariza attempted a pass to Harden, but Ariza drew a charging foul as Griffin bolted to the bucket with 12 seconds remaining. Griffin remained unhappy about the call after the game.

“If I speak on that, I’ll get fined,” Griffin said.

Harden hit one of two foul shots with 8.9 seconds left, capping the scoring before Paul failed to connect on a jumper in the lane with Ariza defending.

The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 36-20 in the second quarter despite making just 38.5 percent of their shots compared to 44.4 percent for the Clippers. Overall, the Clippers hit 43.9 percent to 37.2 percent for the Rockets. They also held an edge in 3-point shooting, converting 12 of 26 attempts to seven of 30 for Houston. The Rockets, though were 29 of 36 from the foul line to 14 of 24 for Los Angeles.

Jordan finished with 20 rebounds and four blocks.

NOTES: F Blake Griffin’s return benefits PG Chris Paul as much as any Clipper. “Teams have been able to trap (Paul) far more than they can when Blake is on the floor because of (Griffin’s) ability to pass,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m sure CP is the happiest of all to have him back.” … Rivers isn’t sure if injured G Jamal Crawford would return before the playoffs. Crawford has missed six games with a right calf contusion. … Rockets C Dwight Howard sat out his 18th game with a right knee edema. “He’s doing everything he can, he’s trying to get better, but until you’re on the floor, it’s impossible to say,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said regarding Howard’s return. … Both clubs resume play Tuesday. Houston hosts the Orlando Magic, while Los Angeles plays the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.

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Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle

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SAN ANTONIO — Guard Manu Ginobili was helped off the floor late in the third quarter of the San Antonio Spurs’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday due to a sprained right ankle.

Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points. He was immediately was led to the locker room, and he did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court. He did not return to the game.

In 19 minutes during the Spurs’ 123-97 win over the Timberwolves, Ginobili scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and leading him to play limited minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

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NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return

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Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, out the last 15 games with an elbow injury, was cleared to return Sunday against the Houston Rockets.

Griffin had surgery five weeks ago to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.

“He said, ‘I’m ready,'” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “Yesterday the trainers called me and said, ‘If he can go, he can go. He’s been cleared.'”

Rivers said timing likely will be an adjustment for Griffin.

“Timing is timing,” Rivers said. “You lose it when you don’t play in an NBA game. Sometimes you come back and you play great the first game and then you lose your timing. Sometimes it doesn’t. As far as the way we play, it won’t be hard for him at all.”

In 51 games this season, Griffin is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

–Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had to be helped off the floor late in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday. Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points.

He was helped off the floor and immediately was led to the locker room. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court.

Up to that point, Ginobili had scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against Toronto and play limited minutes against Cleveland on March 12.

–Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent emails to three fans who were disappointed that he rested several prominent players, including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets in Denver.

“There’s two really good sides to the story,” Kerr said, according to the Associated Press report. “Nobody’s wrong here. … I can’t argue with them.”

Kerr received an email from a family that drove from South Dakota to Denver to see Curry, Thompson and the entertaining Warriors play. But Curry, Thompson, center Andrew Bogut and reserve guard Andre Iguodala did not play so they could be rested, and the Warriors lost 114-103.

“I heard from some fans. I received a few emails, stories about driving in from a long distance off and spending a lot of money on tickets,” Kerr said. “I have great sympathy for those people. I really do. It’s a tricky one. It’s something that I think Adam Silver is trying to address through the scheduling shuffling that he’s talking about.

–The Dallas Mavericks recalled center/forward Dwight Powell from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League on Sunday.

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Powell played in one game during his most recent assignment to the D-League and finished with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead the Legends in a 115-89 win over the Austin Spurs on Saturday night.

Powell has appeared in 19 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.

–The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Austin Daye to a 10-day contract Sunday.

Daye appeared in 26 games (four starts) earlier this season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes.

In 10 games this season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, Daye has averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 28.5 minutes.

–The Miami Heat recalled guard Zoran Dragic from the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League on Sunday.

Zoran appeared in four games (one start) and averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.50 steals, helping the Skyforce to a 3-1 record over that span.

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