Omri Casspi on bench players stepping up
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. On this night for the Rockets against the Grizzlies, that famous opening line from A Tale of Two Cities perfectly describes their play in the two halves. Only in reverse. They exploded for 38 points in the fourth quarter and 61 in the second half, after scoring just 32 in the entire first half, to comeback and beat Memphis, 93-86.
The Rockets shot 62 percent in the second half and scored 61 points against a very good defensive team in the Grizzlies. Chandler Parsons made all six of his second half shots and led five Rockets in double figure scoring with 17 points.
They played without James Harden for the second game in a row and third time this year as he continues rest and rehabilitation for his sore left foot. They've won each of the two of those, including their game Saturday night against Minnesota.
Back to the tale of two halves theme, Houston allowed Memphis to grab 11 offensive rebounds in the first half which led to 16 second chance points. In the second half, they limited Memphis to just three offensive rebounds and zero second chance points. Memphis is not a good shooting team and they shot just 42.4 percent in the game. Once the Rockets stopped giving them second chances, they were in position to put a run together.
That run started with the Rockets still down 11 late in the third quarter when Aaron Brooks his a 3-pointer, the only one he would make in the game. It didn't end until the Rockets had put together a 17-2 run and had turned that deficit into a four-point lead.
The Rockets would not relinquish that lead or even allow the Grizzlies to tie the game the rest of the way. Most of the quarter, the Rockets had their bench out there getting it done. Their lineup throughout nearly the entire run was Brooks, Jeremy Lin, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi and Omer Asik.
The only substitution came when Brooks had to be taken out with a bruised right thigh. Parsons checked in for him and did nothing to slow the Rockets roll as he had nine points the rest of the way.
"That lineup had some rhythm so I just went with them," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. "For us that was a helluva win. We did not have a lot of rhythm and to come out in that fourth quarter (the way we did) and everybody stayed together, everybody just kept fighting.
"All the stuff we talked about doing, we didn't do to start off the game. We found some lineups that gelled and we won."
Coach McHale did not summon Dwight Howard back into the game for the final 14:07, showing confidence in the group that got Houston the lead to finish things off.
"We know this team and they are gonna play aggressive and we brought the fight to them in the second half," Casspi said. "Every time you get a chance to decide a game and play the way we played. He (McHale) just gave us the confidence and we're happy we did the job."
Only once this year have the Rockets scored more points in the second half than the 61 they posted in this game. It's now twice that the Rockets have come back from a deficit of 14 points or more. Both have come on the road. They also came back from 19 points down on Nov. 2 against Utah.