Memphis (39-38), trying to finish with a winning record for the first time in four years, has lost all four meetings with the Rockets this season by double-digit margins. Tuesday's loss was the closest the Grizzlies have come to defeating Houston, which has won the four games by an average of 16.7 points.
"They have a lot of tough matchups for us," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "Aaron Brooks, one game gets 7 of 7 from 3s and torches us. Then, Luis Scola goes and gets 30 points and torches us. Tonight, it's Kevin Martin. They just have a lot of guys we don't match up well with."
Scola also scored 17 points for Houston and Trevor Ariza, Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries added 12 points each. Jeffries, who grabbed 10 rebounds, scored nine in the fourth quarter to thwart a Memphis rally.
"[Jeffries] made his own shots and he was going to the basket," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "I thought he played a terrific game. He was good defensively. He was very active."
The Rockets led by as many as 14 at the end of the third quarter, but needed to withstand a fourth-quarter rally by Memphis to win their fifth straight in the series.
Jeffries helped keep Memphis from overtaking Houston, scoring eight of the Rockets' 10 points during one stretch midway through the fourth.
The Grizzlies were within 103-101 after a pair of free throws by Conley with 2:26 left. But Brooks scored on a pair of layups and the Grizzlies couldn't recover.
"It seems like this game was a lot closer than a lot of our other games," said Memphis forward Darrell Arthur, who had eight points and 12 rebounds. "We couldn't make a play at the end."
Martin, who returned Sunday after missing five games with a sprained left shoulder, had 11 points in the first quarter, part of 17 in the half.
As might be expected with both teams out of playoff position, the game was sloppy at times.
Turnover after turnover came from weak and mishandled passes, coupled with poor ball handling.
The Grizzlies ended the night with 16 turnovers. The Rockets had 13.
The Rockets also held an advantage at the foul line, connecting on 29 of 33 attempts, including Martin hitting all 12 of his free throws. Memphis was 12 of 16 from the line.
The Rockets carried a 59-55 lead into the break.
"We fought so hard during the early part of the season to get into the playoffs," Ariza said. "Now, to know that you have no chance is kind of tough to get motivated.
"That part caught up with us in the first half. Then, we realized we were playing for pride. We're playing for our team, our franchise, our families, and we started picking it up."
Houston built the biggest lead of the game in the third quarter. The Rockets outscored the Grizzlies 29-19, as Brooks hit three 3-pointers. Kyle Lowry's 20-footer at the end of the quarter gave the Rockets an 88-74 cushion entering the fourth.
Memphis opened the final quarter with 10 unanswered points to make the game interesting, but could never overtake Houston.
While Memphis is trying to secure a winning record, the Rockets (39-38) are somewhat in the same situation approaching the end of the season. They want to finish with a winning record, too.
"We've had a bunch of years where we've been over .500," Brooks said, "and we don't want to drop under that. It's all about pride."
Rockets F Shane Battier, a Duke alum, was in Indianapolis on Monday night for the Blue Devils' national championship win. Houston played the Pacers in Indianapolis on Sunday, a scheduling move that worked to Battier's advantage. Battier met his teammates in Memphis instead of flying straight to Houston even though he was inactive for the Memphis game with a left knee sprain. ... Young set a career high in blocks with four. ... Brooks hit three 3-pointers, giving him 192 for the season to tie Rafer Alston's franchise mark. ... Memphis G O.J. Mayo was held to four points, matching his career low. He also had four points against the Rockets on March 17.