for this game

Yao, Rockets top Grizzlies in Battier's return to Memphis

Nov 8, 2006 - 4:01 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Dahntay Jones put Yao Ming on a poster. Then Yao put away the Memphis Grizzlies.

Yao scored 24 points and Tracy McGrady added 19 as the Houston Rockets posted an 86-80 victory over the cold-shooting Grizzlies.

In his return to Memphis, Shane Battier had 12 points, five rebounds and four steals for the Rockets, who shot just 42 percent (28-of-66) but outrebounded the Grizzlies, 45-33.

"(Memphis) made it hard to make the catch," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Our ball-handling was substandard. How we could win on the road like this is miraculous. It shows we did other things. We rebounded well."

One of the most popular players in Memphis history, Battier received a standing ovation during pregame introductions and proceeded to score seven of Houston's first 14 points.

"I'm kind of jealous of (Battier) that he comes back and gets the standing ovation that he got," McGrady said. "I go to Orlando and Toronto and they kill (me)."

"I wanted to win this game, and not for any revenge sort of reasons," Battier said. "I had five great years here. It's not about that. I want to get this team off to a great start and we've already surpassed the amount of wins we had in the Southwest Division last year. So this was an important game for us."

The Rockets were 1-15 against Southwest Division opponents last season. Along with Tuesday's win, Houston routed the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday to start off divisional play.

The Rockets never trailed, but nearly gave up the lead in the fourth quarter when Jones dunked over Yao to make it 72-71 with 7:41 remaining in the game. Jones' slam over the 7-5 center inspired the crowd but was the final highlight for the Grizzlies.

Despite getting dunked on, Yao said he will continue to be aggressive defensively, even when he is in foul trouble.

"That's something Coach (Van Gundy) has always pushed me to improve," Yao said. "I've struggled with foul trouble. As long as I can stay on the court, that's the only way we have a chance."

While Memphis shot 3-of-16 after the highlight-reel flush, Yao came up big in the final period. The four-time All-Star was 4-of-5 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

"Memphis is missing Pau Gasol, who is very dominant in the paint," Yao said. "All we had to do was focus on their best shooter, Mike Miller, and limit his 3-point shots. If our team plays defense well, we play well."

McGrady shot 6-of-15 and had nine rebounds for Houston, which picked up its first road victory despite committing 24 turnovers.

"We made a lot of mistakes tonight," McGrady said. "We made it harder than it should have been, but more importantly, we came out with the win."

Stromile Swift, who was traded for Battier in the offseason, netted 15 points in his first game for the Grizzlies, who shot just 40 percent (30-of-75).

"You have to remember that Stro (Stromile) has only had one real day of practice before this game," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. "Having him give us any minutes and numbers is good. He'll get his strength back."

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!