MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 27 (Ticker) --
The Houston Rockets would not
let poor free-throw shooting hurt them for the second straight
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had 22 points and nine assists and Maurice Taylor
had 16 points off the bench as the Rockets snapped a season-high
four-game slide with a 100-95 victory over the Memphis
Houston's longest losing streak of the season was extended with
a 100-98 setback at Chicago on Sunday. The Rockets could have
ended their funk one day early if they had success at the line,
where they missed 12 free throws.
Houston redeemed itself Monday, making its final 15 foul shots
to help hold off a determined Memphis team.
"Tonight was a big game for us because we've been on the sneid,
losing four games in a row," Francis said. "We've been losing to
teams that we feel we've had a good chance of beating. We
wanted to come in and set the tone."
The Rockets never trailed in the fourth quarter, but the
Grizzlies pulled within 80-79 with 5:29 remaining after Pau
scored four straight points.
Houston's James Posey
and Taylor answered with consecutive
three-point plays for an 86-79 cushion with 4:02 to go.
Gasol scored three points during a 7-2 spurt as Memphis climbed
within 90-88 on rookie Gordan Giricek's
long jumper at the 1:10
Francis answered with a jumper and buried to free throws to
extend the lead for Houston, which sealed the win by making
8-of-8 foul shots in the final 30 seconds.
"We had talked about finding a way to win and got great
contributions off the bench," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich
said. "Posey made some big defensive plays and we made our free
throws down the stretch."
"It's tough to win on the road against any team," Francis said.
"I think we're one of the teams that really knows that it's hard
to win in this league. We just want to keep going forward."
scored 16 points, Posey added 14 and rookie Yao
collected 13 and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who were
32-of-39 from the line.
Houston got 32 points from its bench while Memphis had only 13
from its reserves.
Gasol finished with 26 points and eight rebounds and rookie Drew
had 19 and 11 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the sixth
time in seven games.
"We are losing by so few points," Gasol said. "We are so close,
it is the little details we mess up. Nobody likes losing at
home. We want to be better every game."
collected 15 points and eight assists and Giricek
added 14 points for Memphis, which had its three-game home
winning streak over Houston snapped.
"It is very frustrating," Gasol said. "We need to get some wins,
especially here at home. We have to pick it up."
"When we are healthy with our best 10, we have to play a perfect
game to beat the playoff teams," Memphis coach Hubie Brown
said. "We play well here, we have beaten the playoff teams. We
have a lot of young talent and they are getting good experiences
with this team."
The Grizzlies had the lead for the first 16 minutes, but the
teams exchanged the lead nine times and were tied four times in
the final eight minutes of the second quarter. Francis made
1-of-2 free throws with four seconds left to give the Rockets a
43-42 halftime edge.
The teams exchanged the lead six times in the third quarter
before Houston took it for good at 58-57 on a jumper by Francis
with 4:43 remaining.