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Grizzlies defuse Rockets, get back to .500 on the season

Grizzlies and Rockets spar in close game at Toyota Center in Houston.
Credit: AP
Houston Rockets guard D.J. Augustin (14) passes the ball between Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) and forward Brandon Clarke (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 29, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON, Texas — The Memphis Grizzlies are back to .500 on the season after battling their way to a hard fought 120-110 win against the host Houston Rockets Monday night.

Memphis was led by Jonas Valanciunas’ 30 points and 15 rebounds. Off the bench, De'Anthony Melton added 23 points and Desmond Bane scored 17 points. Houston’s top scorer was Kelly Olynyk with 25 points, while teammate Jae'Sean Tate added 24.

After the first two quarters of action, the 57-57 score showed just how even the game was. The Grizzlies double-double machine, center Jonas Valanciunas, dropped in 14 points and snagged 5 rebounds in the first half, while Desmond Bane added 10 points and 3 assists off the bench. The Rockets leaned on Kelly Olynyk for 15 points and 6 boards in the opening half, and teammate Jaesean Tate contributed 13 points.

Grizzlies guard Grayson Allen suffered what was called ‘hip soreness’ and did not return after scoring 2 points and grabbing 3 rebounds in 7 minutes of action.

At 13-32, the Rockets entered Monday’s game with the third worst record in the NBA. The Grizzlies entered the game in Houston on a two-game losing streak with a 21-22 record.

The Memphis Grizzlies next game is Wednesday at home against the Utah Jazz, the owner of the best record in the NBA, entering Monday’s action with a 34-11 mark. The Jazz beat Memphis in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday in Utah.