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.
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