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Gay finishes strong to lead Grizzlies past Rockets

Oct 11, 2006 - 3:25 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- It took rookie Rudy Gay a little longer than expected to find his comfort zone.

Gay and Mike Miller scored 14 points apiece and Hakim Warrick added 12 as the Memphis Grizzlies rallied for a 75-69 triumph over the Houston Rockets in the preseason opener for both teams.

Memphis acquired the draft rights to Gay, along with Stromile Swift, from Houston for Shane Battier in the offseason. The former University of Connecticut standout got off to a shaky start, missing 10 of his first 12 shots.

However, Gay settled down in the fourth quarter. He scored nine points and finished 5-of-18 from the floor to lead Memphis' comeback from a 49-37 halftime deficit.

Facing his former team for the first time, Battier hit a baseline jumper, a lefthanded hook and a reverse layup in the first quarter en route to an eight-point outing.

After missing 34 games with a back injury last season, two-time scoring champion Tracy McGrady scored all 17 of his points in the first half for Houston.

Second-round pick Steve Novak made 4-of-6 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to finish with 12 points for the Rockets, who managed just nine points in the third quarter and 11 in the fourth.

The Rockets played without Yao Ming, who underwent surgery to have the nail on his big left toe removed Monday. The 7-5 center is expected to be out for seven to 10 days.

Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol remains sidelined with a fractured bone in his right foot. He suffered the injury this summer while playing for Spain at the World Championships in Japan, where he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

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