The Rockets will try to get back on the winning track against the Grizzlies, but the path certainly won't be an easy one.
The two teams played against each other back in the preseason on Oct. 17. Kevin McHale repeatedly emphasized the Grizzlies' physicality.
Of course, back then, the Rockets were a relatively unknown group with a lot of rookies getting playing time against the Grizzlies' veterans of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Since then, Houston acquired James Harden and Cole Aldrich. Aldrich added much-needed depth for the Rockets' bigs along with Greg Smith to back up Omer Asik.
But they're going against Randolph and Gasol. Randolph has a double double in every game this season and averages 16 points and 15.3 rebounds. Gasol not only leads the team in scoring at 19.3 ppg, he also has 7.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Grizz also have Mareese Speights coming off the bench. He's no slouch of an interior presence. Lots of responsibility for Asik, Patrick Patterson, and Marcus Morris in this one.
Oh, and Memphis also has Rudy Gay and his 18.8 ppg average. Lots of weaponry.
The Harden-Tony Allen matchup will be an interesting one. Allen's known as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Harden's coming off a game where he had his lowest scoring output as a Rocket and he's gone 13-for-39 (33 percent) from the field in his last two games. So it won't be easy for Harden to score 37 or 45 like he did his first two games in a Rockets uniform.
That probably means other Rockets need to step up their offensive games. Jeremy Lin was hard on himself after the team's defeat to the Nuggets on Wednesday night, saying he needs to shoot better for things to open up. He was frustrated enough to get some extra shooting in after the Nuggets game along with Chandler Parsons. And, along with several other Rockets, Lin stayed around a little extra on Thursday to shoot some more before the team jetted for Memphis. (His shooting looked pretty good.)
The main thing, though, isn't really his shooting. The team's ball movement was the main concern. How that'll be addressed, and how quickly the team picks up on it, will be something to watch against Memphis. How fast will the learning curve be?