Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/5

Game 1: Friday, November 5th
Game 2: Tuesday, November 9th
Game 3: Monday, January 17th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 13th

Grizzlies 92

(44-34, 19-20 away)

Rockets 100

(48-31, 23-15 home)

Coverage: FSS

7:30 PM ET, April 13, 2005

Toyota Center, Houston, TX

1 2 3 4 T
MEM 26 16 24 2692
HOU 24 28 17 31100

Top Performers

Memphis: M. Miller 37 Pts, 1 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Houston: Y. Ming 28 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Stl, 4 Blk

Houston wins fourth in a row

HOUSTON (AP) -- With the Houston Rockets leading by two points and about a minute to play, Tracy McGrady had the ball and two defenders blocking his path to the basket.

For the two-time defending NBA scoring leader, that's normally an invitation to pull up for a jumper.

But McGrady found Yao Ming rolling to the basket for a key three-point play to lead Houston to its fourth straight win Wednesday night, 100-92 over Memphis to deny the Grizzlies a chance to clinch a playoff spot.

"When a team double-teams me, my job is to go out and make the right play," said McGrady, who finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. "When they do that, they leave somebody open. I was fortunate enough to hit them, and they knocked down the shots.

"When it's rolling like that, I don't have to score."

Yao had 28 points and nine rebounds, Mike James came off the bench for 15 points, including a huge 3 with 41 seconds to go, and the Rockets held off a furious second-half rally by the Grizzlies.

Mike Miller led Memphis with a career-high 37 points on 15-for-24 shooting but he missed his final two attempts in the Grizzlies' last ditch effort to overcome a 16-point deficit. Pau Gasol added 20 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.

"It doesn't mean nothing because we still need to get one win," Miller said. "The bottom line was we needed to make a run. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball and I tried to make something happen."

The Grizzlies have lost the first two of a four-game road trip, keeping Minnesota alive in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Memphis leads Minnesota by three games with four remaining and needs one victory or a loss by the Timberwolves to secure another trip to the postseason. The Grizzlies finish the road swing at Denver and San Antonio.

The Rockets have already clinched their second straight trip to the playoffs after failing to qualify from 2000-03, but find themselves in a tight battle for positioning with three games left.

Houston (48-31), which earned its playoff berth with a victory over Phoenix on Saturday, is in sixth place in the West and moved within one-half game of Sacramento (48-30). The Rockets hold a half-game lead over seventh-place Denver (47-31).

"Houston has done a terrific job," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. "They have been hit with a lot of obstacles ... and the whole team should be commended for the job they have done all year."

In a showdown of two of the leagues' top four defenses, the Rockets and Grizzlies came up with some impressive offensive spurts to keep the game interesting until the final few minutes.

Miller scored 13 points, including four 3-pointers, in the final 5:40 of the third quarter, helping Memphis trim the Rockets' lead from 16 points to three going into the final period.

"We let Mike carry us and he single-handedly took over the game in the third quarter," Grizzlies forward Shane Battier said. "When a guy is that hot you just try to screen for him and give him some good looks. To see him go off like that was really nice."

Miller, who came in averaging 21.3 points on 58 percent shooting in the previous three games, was nearly unguardable down the stretch against Houston.

He hit a 3 with 4:07 left to cut lead to 83-82, scored another basket to keep the Grizzlies within a point and made a driving dunk with 41 seconds left to keep Memphis within striking distance -- 93-90 -- as the Rockets threatened to pull away.

"Mike Miller obviously had a fantastic game," Fratello said. "I'd call it great rather than just a nice game."

But McGrady, sixth in the NBA at 25.8 points a game, made all the big plays in the final minutes with -- all of things -- his passes.

He dished to Yao on a pick-and-roll for the three-point play, then found James wide open for a 3 to give the Rockets a six-point lead. Miller finally missed on the next possession and Houston's Jon Barry was sent to the free throw line to ice the game.

"That's where Tracy's greatness lies," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "There are a lot of guys who can score and there are a lot of guys who can pass. There are very few who can do both and who are willing to do both."

Game notes

Houston guard Bob Sura had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists. ... McGrady is 45 points from becoming the fourth player in Rockets history to score 2,000 points in a season. The others were Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone and Elvin Hayes. ... Rockets forward Vin Baker didn't dress for the game because of flu-like symptoms. He has played only 13 minutes since being traded to Houston from the New York Knicks on Feb. 24.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 92 100
FGM-FGA 37-85 (.435) 33-76 (.434)
3PM-3PA 8-19 (.421) 8-19 (.421)
FTM-FTA 10-14 (.714) 26-33 (.788)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-42 14-45
Assists 20 23
Turnovers 9 11
Steals 8 7
Blocks 11 9
Fast Break Points 9 11
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
Largest Lead 3 16

Top Performers

Mike Miller Miller
Points: 37
Reb: 1
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Yao Ming Ming
Points: 28
Reb: 9
Ast: 0
Stl: 1
Blk: 4