MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Stromile Swift went over the 7-foot-6 Yao
Ming for a powerful dunk, setting the tone for the Memphis
Grizzlies' dominating night.
Swift scored 18 points and Jason Williams added 16 to lead the
Grizzlies to their ninth win in 10 games, 99-80 over the Houston
Rockets on Monday.
"If I get the ball deep in the post, I try to go up on
anybody," the 6-9 Swift said. "I just tried to use my quickness
to get around him. I know he's long and big, so I just try to go up
and dunk it hard."
Swift connected on six of nine shots as Memphis moved ahead of
the Rockets by a half game for third place in the Western
Conference's Southwest Division. The dunk on Yao midway through the
opening period brought towel-waving and whoops from the Grizzlies
on the bench. And Rockets leader Tracy McGrady knew it was
"That lit a fire under them right there," said McGrady, who
led all scorers with 28 points. "That was the difference in the
game. They had energy, and we didn't."
David Wesley finished with 13 points for the Rockets. The loss
snapped Houston's four-game winning streak.
"We struggled hitting our shots, and they did a good job
defending us from getting quality shots," Houston coach Jeff Van
Swift scored nine points in the first 6 minutes of the final
period, when Memphis built its lead to 20 and never led by less
than 15 the rest of the way.
The Grizzlies used a 10-0 run over the first and second quarter
to build a 54-47 halftime lead. Memphis shot 64 percent in the
first period and hit its first four shots of the second quarter.
Memphis increased its lead to 10 points in the second quarter,
but the Rockets went on a 7-0 run behind six points from McGrady.
Houston's leading scorer had 17 points in the first half.
Memphis opened the second half with another 10-0 run to build
its biggest lead of the third quarter 64-47, and maintained a 73-60
advantage going into the final period.
The Grizzlies' reserves outscored the Rockets' 44-18 for the
"We got a big lift from our bench," Memphis coach Mike
Fratello said. "They gave us energy all night. We got a lot of
productivity from a lot of people."
Despite not even being the halfway point of the season, both
teams recognized the importance, since they could end up competing
for playoff position. The Rockets had won the first two games of
"Memphis was right on our tails, and we're in the same
division," McGrady said. "This could have been the game that
closed out the series."
Memphis reserve Bonzi Wells said the Grizzlies needed to send a
message that they could play with Houston. They also didn't want to
be down 0-3 in a season series in case a tiebreaker became a
factor. The last game in the series is April 13 in Houston.
"All that comes into play," Wells said. "I know we're not
thinking about playoffs right now, but in my years in the league,
you can't let those games get away and you always want to be at
least 2-2 with a team in case it comes down to it."
This is the third year Memphis has played at home on Martin
Luther King Day. The civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968
on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, less than a half mile from
the FedExForum. ...The game was broadcast by TNT, where both
coaches have worked as analysts. "I'm not sure I'm happy with the
crew we have broadcasting the game," Fratello said in his pregame
media session with former partner Marv Albert standing in the back
of the room. "That will be determined on postgame analysis and
evaluation." ... Wells got a technical in the second period for
arguing after a foul call. .. .Officials reviewed Gasol's tip-in at
the end of the third quarter before ruling that it went in before
the buzzer. ...Williams hit all three of his free throws and has 22
straight. His last miss was Dec. 17 against the Nets. ... Yao
fouled out with eight points in 24 minutes.