The Memphis Grizzlies eked out a 92-89 victory over the visiting Houston Rockets in both team's preseason openers Tuesday night. It was a game that definitely demonstrated the importance of tune-up games before the regular season.
Memphis had an extremely balanced attack, with no one playing more than 21 minutes. Russ Smith led the team with 12 points off the bench, sparking an 11-0 Grizzlies run in the third quarter that swung momentum back in his team's favor. Brandan Wright also chipped in an efficient 10 points and six rebounds in reserve.
For the Rockets, stars James Harden and Dwight Howard struggled, but Trevor Ariza and new point guard Ty Lawson didn't. They combined for 22 points and seven steals in limited minutes, making Memphis pay for being careless with the ball.
The quality of the game took a severe turn for the worse in the second half when most of the starters were done for the night. Neither team could hit many of its jump shots and sloppy passes abounded. In all, the Grizzlies and Rockets combined for 40 turnovers, 37.4 percent shooting from the field and 24.5 percent from behind the arc.
Memphis' next preseason game is against the New Orleans Pelicans in Memphis Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Houston, meanwhile, returns home for another contest Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks at 8 p.m. ET.