for this game

Mayo, Grizzlies down Rockets for second straight win

Feb 5, 2009 - 5:12 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Winning two games in a row may seem like a minor accomplishment, but for a team coming off an 12-game skid, it's a veritable surge.

Two nights after snapping their longest losing streak of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies made it two in a row Wednesday night, upsetting the Houston Rockets for a 104-93 triumph.

"This is definitely a great way to change things around, coming off a 12-game losing streak," rookie guard O.J. Mayo said. "You don't want to really be satisfied. These are baby steps. We've put together two straight wins and hopefully we will keep it rolling."

Despite the presence of all three of the Rockets' star-studded trio of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and Ron Artest - a rare accomplishment in their first season together due to a variety of injuries - the Rockets couldn't match the explosiveness of the younger, quicker Grizzlies.

"I was pleased with the whole game," said Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins, now 2-3 since taking over at the helm on January 25. "Our guys came out and scratched and clawed, and (the Rockets) are a very potent team. They have a lot of great players."

Mayo scored 32 points, Rudy Gay added 18 and nine boards and Hakim Warrick chipped in 17 points off the bench as Memphis defeated its division rival for the second time in as many chances this season. For a club with just 13 victories all season, that's no small feat.

"In practice, he's teaching and we're learning how to get better," Gay said of his new head coach. "That's one of the big ways that a young team can grow, at practice."

After taking a three-point edge into the halftime break, the Grizzlies stormed out of the gates in the second half, engineering an 18-6 run to extend their lead to 76-61. They practically couldn't miss, going 8-of-9 from the floor during the spurt. After Marc Gasol got things going with a short jumper in the paint, Mike Conley knocked down a pair of jumpers to push Memphis' advantage to nine.

The Rockets cut it to six on Rafer Alston's 19-footer, but Gay answered back with a drive to the lane for an easy bucket before Mayo and Conley put an exclamation mark on the run with back-to-back 3-pointers.

"I think the guys are starting to really get comfortable in the new offense and the way we're running it," Conley said. "Guys are more comfortable running plays, and it shows when guys make the extra passes. ... It was a huge team win for us tonight."

The Grizzlies momentarily let up off the gas in the final frame, as the Rockets jumped back into it with a 17-5 run highlighted by a three 3-pointers - including two by Shane Battier - and six straight points from Yao that cut the deficit to 97-93. But Houston went cold thereafter, going scoreless for the rest of the game as Memphis held on.

"It feels good, but after we won, the locker room still wasn't very excited. Guys are still focused, and coach Hollins is keeping us grounded right now, telling us we've got a long way to go and we've got a lot of steps to make," Conley said. "This is just one more step toward getting where we want to get."

McGrady led Houston with 21 points and Yao added 20 and nine boards as the team's up-and-down campaign continued. The Rockets are 3-4 in their last seven games as the Dallas Mavericks have caught up with them for third place in the Southwest Division.

"I think there is something wrong," McGrady said. "We do it in spurts. We really needed to come back like we did in the fourth quarter with that energy because we could have laid down. We could have been down and out. Those guys had a 14-point lead, but we fought back. We looked like a team. We played together and that is why we got back into the ball game. But we can't do it in spurts."