As good as the Memphis Grizzlies have been at home this season, their efforts away from the FedExForum haven’t always been as impressive.
The Grizzlies will have another chance to improve their road record on Wednesday night when they begin a four-game trip with a contest against the Houston Rockets.
The Grizzlies are 11-18 on the road compared with 26-5 at home, where they posted a 121-109 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Memphis trailed by three points at the half before star Ja Morant took over.
Morant scored 28 of his 39 points in the third quarter and finished with 10 assists and 10 rebounds for Memphis, which has won five of its last seven games.
“Ja had a special third quarter,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He just was in attack mode, and that’s what we needed because our offense wasn’t really clicking in the first half.”
Xavier Tillman continued to impress with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the victory, while Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane scored 16 points apiece.
Tillman has averaged 12.7 points and 10.0 rebounds over his last three games while starting in place of injured center Steven Adams.
Adams, who averages 8.6 points and 11.5 rebounds, could be nearing a return after being sidelined since late January with a PCL sprain in his right knee.
“We’ve circled a couple of dates, range of dates,” Jenkins said. “Sometime at the end of the road trip is something that we’ve targeted, but it all depends on how he responds day to day.”
The Grizzlies have won six of the last seven meetings against Houston, including 129-122 on Oct. 21.
The Rockets are on a 10-game losing streak after falling 133-112 to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Houston trailed by as many as 26, one game after allowing Damian Lillard to score a career-high 71 points in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
One bright spot for Houston against Denver was the play of leading scorer Jalen Green, who returned after missing two games with a groin strain. Green collected 17 points and five assists in 19 minutes.
The second-year pro said his goals are simple heading into the season’s final few weeks.
“Just to win,” Green said. “I’m not really too big on anything for myself at this point. We’ve got the worst record in the NBA (13-48). We should just try together, as a team, just try to string some wins together.”
Houston should receive a boost on Wednesday with the expected return of guard Kevin Porter Jr., who has been sidelined since Jan. 11 with a bruised toe.
The team’s young roster boasts several promising building blocks, including rookie Tari Eason. The 6-foot-8 forward had 17 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to Denver.
Despite losing 30 of their past 34 games, the Rockets remain focused on their long-term goals.
“We’ve just got to keep building every day,” Eason said. “There’s no shortcuts in this league. There’s no handouts, and I know that nobody’s giving us any of them. So as long as we just stay true to our work, improvement will come.”
–Field Level Media