Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/25

Game 1: Friday, November 25th
Game 2: Saturday, December 3rd
Game 3: Monday, January 30th
Game 4: Saturday, April 15th

Grizzlies 93

(47-33, 18-22 away)

Rockets 81

(33-47, 15-25 home)

Coverage: FSS

7:30 PM ET, April 15, 2006

Toyota Center, Houston, TX

1 2 3 4 T
MEM 27 19 27 2093
HOU 17 29 16 1981

Top Performers

Memphis: P. Gasol 16 Pts, 10 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Blk

Houston: R. Alston 13 Pts, 3 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl

Miller, Battier lead Grizz past Rockets in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Memphis Grizzlies are growing more confident with each victory in a late regular-season surge. Now, they even think they can finally win a playoff series.

Mike Miller scored 25 points, Shane Battier hit his first eight shots and added 19, and the Grizzlies beat the Houston Rockets 93-81 on Saturday night.

Pau Gasol added 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Grizzlies won for the sixth time in seven games. The win inched Memphis a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers in the race for the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

"We're on a really nice role," Gasol said. "We're playing with confidence, our chemistry's good and our mentality is good.

"We just want to win," he said. "That's all we know right now."

Memphis has been swept out of the playoffs in the first round the last two seasons -- by San Antonio in 2004 and by Phoenix last year.

"The last two years have been kind of sour notes," Miller said. "But we've learned you can't just pick it up when the playoffs start."

Juwan Howard scored 16 points on 5-for-18 shooting for the Rockets, who've dropped seven of their last eight as they limp to the end of their injury-ravaged season.

Leading scorer Tracy McGrady, who has missed 32 games with a bad back, greeted his teammates in street clothes before the game. Fellow All-Star Yao Ming, who had surgery Friday on his broken left foot that will sideline him 4-6 months, was a no-show.

With two games left, Houston is already assured of its worst record since the 2001-02 team finished 28-54. The Rockets' home record fell to 15-25, their highest loss total at home since the 1982-83 squad lost 32 during a 14-68 campaign.

The Rockets wrap up the season at Denver on Monday and against San Antonio next Wednesday at the Toyota Center.

"Our last two games are against the same type of competition (as Memphis), or even better," said Houston guard Luther Head. "It's all about just going out there and playing hard."

Memphis built an early 12-point lead with a 14-3 run bridging the first and second quarters. Houston missed seven of eight shots during the spurt and trailed 29-17.

Stromile Swift, drafted by the Grizzlies in 2000, had a dunk, two baseline jumpers and a pair of free throws in a 14-2 run that got the Rockets back in it.

Rafer Alston beat the halftime buzzer with a driving layup to forge a 46-all tie at the break.

Fratello asked his players for suggestions at halftime and they came up with some that worked.

"They said, 'What about this and what about that," Fratello said. "I think maybe it helped us a little bit."

Eddie Jones sank a 3-pointer and Battier hit two from the corner as the Grizzlies rebuilt their lead in the third quarter. Battier added a hook in the lane, his eighth basket without a miss, to put Memphis up 67-59. He ruined his perfect shooting night a few minutes later, missing a 3-point attempt from the corner.

The Grizzlies still led 73-62 heading to the fourth after holding the Rockets to five field goals in the third.

Miller was one of the players who recommended changes at halftime.

"We just wanted to guard a few things differently," Miller said.

The Rockets scored only 10 points in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's loss to Minnesota and struggled again in the final 12 minutes on Saturday.

Gasol and Miller scored inside and a bad pass by Swift led to a three-point play by Bobby Jackson that extended the lead to 18.

A hook shot by Dikembe Mutombo finished a quick 6-0 Houston spurt, but Miller swished a 3-pointer after a timeout and the poor-shooting Rockets got no closer than 11 after that.

Miller came off the bench to go 10-for-14. He entered the game with 2:40 left in the opening quarter and hit two 3-pointers before the second quarter began.

"When you come off the bench, you've got to get yourself involved as much as possible, as quickly as possible," he said.

Battier finished 8-for-11 from the field and he and Miller both went 2-for-4 from 3-point range.

The Rockets shot 2-for-11 from 3-point range, dropping to 6-of-38 in their last three games.

Game notes

For the fourth time in five road games, the Grizzlies wore the red, white and blue uniforms of the former Memphis Pros of the ABA. The Pros played in Memphis from 1970-72. The team was called the Tams from 1972-74 and the Sounds from '74-75. The Rockets wore uniforms from the 1993 season. ... The Rockets dropped to 0-7 when neither McGrady nor Yao play.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 93 81
FGM-FGA 37-74 (.500) 31-71 (.437)
3PM-3PA 7-20 (.350) 2-11 (.182)
FTM-FTA 12-20 (.600) 17-24 (.708)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-37 10-38
Assists 20 17
Turnovers 13 10
Steals 4 5
Blocks 5 2
Fast Break Points 5 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 20 (3/0)
Largest Lead 18 2

Top Performers

Pau Gasol Gasol
Points: 16
Reb: 10
Ast: 7
Stl: 0
Blk: 2
Rafer Alston Alston
Points: 13
Reb: 3
Ast: 10
Stl: 2
Blk: 0