The Houston Rockets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 121-96 Saturday night, earning their third consecutive victory and fifth in their last six games.
Hotly contested throughout the first half, the teams went back and forth until a late 12-6 run put Houston up 11 at the break.
The Grizzlies got as close as 71-64 in the third, but a 24-14 run to end the quarter gave Houston a comfy lead heading into the fourth. And after a hot start to the final frame, the Rockets were eventually able to salt the game away with backups.
James Harden led all scorers with 31 points on just 13 field-goal attempts, while Jeremy Lin contributed 15 points and 11 assists. Despite those gaudy numbers, however, both teams exhibited impressive balance: Between Houston and Memphis, 12 different players scored in double figures.
Rudy Gay, however, was not one of those 12. The Grizzlies' leading scorer came up small in this one, scoring just six points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field. He exacerbated that problem by getting to the foul line all of zero times, driving timidly despite facing the league's 29th-ranked defense in points per game.
The win moves Houston to 14-12 on the season, seventh in the Western Conference, pending the rest of Saturday's results. Memphis drops down to 18-7, but retains their spot at third in the Western Conference standings.
Player of the Game: James Harden (HOU)
The Beard was in rare form Saturday night, putting up an effortless 31 points in only 30 minutes.
Harden always scores in high volume, but doesn't always do so efficiently. Last time he put up 31 points, December 12 against the Wizards, he needed 20 field-goal attempts to get there and only had two assists.
Against Memphis, however, Harden proved that he can get his own while also sharing the rock with teammates. He scored his 31 on only 13 field-goal attempts and dished out eight assists—his highest total since December 8.
If he keeps up the balanced play, Houston’s hot streak might be long for this world.
What's Next for the Rockets?
Houston gets some time off before a Christmas night game against the Bulls in Chicago. They'd better rest up, though, because that game marks the start of a brutal three-game road trip that also includes Minnesota and San Antonio.
What's Next for the Grizzlies?
Memphis also gets some time off to lick its wounds; they play the Sixers in Memphis on December 26.