Rockets look for rare road win against Grizzlies
MEMPHIS -- James Harden will attempt to snap his team out of its road woes Saturday night when the Houston Rockets visit the Memphis Grizzlies for his encore performance after a 50-point triple-double two days earlier.
Harden's big night helped the Rockets complete a 2-0 homestand with a 126-111 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Houston also beat Portland during its short stay at home.
But now it's back on the road, where the Rockets have lost six of seven, including three straight on two different trips.
The Memphis visit is just an overnighter, the same type of scheduling that produced the Rockets' last road win, Nov. 30 at San Antonio.
Houston's struggles on the road have continued despite Harden's brilliance. He has had 33 or more points four times during the 1-6 skid, three times recording double-doubles.
The Rockets have brought in reinforcements for the Memphis trip, with veteran Brandon Knight having made his Houston debut Thursday against the Lakers.
Knight, acquired in the offseason from Phoenix, hadn't played since February of 2017 in the wake of two knee surgeries.
The former 19.6 points-per-game scorer got in for just 3 minutes, 41 seconds against the Lakers, long enough to get up two shots (missed them both), record an assist and commit two fouls.
Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni indicated before the game that the 27-year-old remains a work in progress.
"You can see him just getting better every day," the coach told reporters. "The trainer said it's time. He's ready to go."
The Rockets figure to need all the firepower they can gather against the Grizzlies, who ranked second in the NBA in points allowed (102.1) even before holding Miami under that average in a 100-97 home loss on Friday night.
Memphis will take the court Saturday in an offensive slump, having been held under 100 points in four straight games, but they might be a day or two away from getting a nice boost.
The Grizzlies on Friday night reportedly were putting the finishing touches on a three-team trade that would net them high-scoring forward Kelly Oubre from Washington. Memphis was said to be parting with Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks, both headed to Phoenix.
In the meantime, Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff hopes memories of losses such as the 15- and 22-point defeats to the Rockets last season can fuel further success this season.
"This organization has had a ton of success," Bickerstaff told reporters earlier this week. "Last year, we want to prove it was a blip on the radar; it wasn't something people should expect. Every night, our guys play with an edge to prove that we are who we say we are."
The Grizzlies were able to hold Harden to 20 and 22 points in two early-season wins last year, before he responded with 38 and 29 points in the two subsequent blowouts.
Memphis star Mike Conley played in the first three games against the Rockets before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in November last season. The Grizzlies were 7-6 at the time, then went 15-54 the rest of the way.
Conley, despite bothered of late by a sore knee, has played in all 28 of Memphis' games this season. He was the game's top scorer with 22 points in Friday's loss to Miami.
Updated December 14, 2018