Johnson's Big Night Can't Stop Summer Skid

Orlando Squad Falls to 0-4 with 88-74 Loss to Memphis
by Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Writer/Reporter

Nick Johnson delivered his latest sparkling summer league showing, but it still wasn’t enough to carry the Rockets to their first win of the Orlando event. Johnson put on a show, finishing with a game-high 22 points, six rebounds and six assists as Houston fell in its fourth straight contest, dropping an 88-74 decision to the Memphis Grizzlies. 

A scorching start from Maarty Leunen helped Houston begin the game with a bang, as the former Oregon Duck drained a trio of triples in the opening period to give the Rockets an early 13-10 lead.

Memphis was not down for long, however, as the Grizzlies ended the quarter with a 16-4 run to lay claim to a 26-17 edge. Rookie Jordan Adams sparked Memphis’ flurry while leading a parade to the free throw line that saw the hyper aggressive Grizzlies boast a 19-6 advantage from the charity stripe by halftime.

But the tide turned again midway through the second quarter when Houston’s collective outside shooting stroke, M.I.A. for much of the summer league schedule thus far, reappeared in time to trigger a Rockets’ rally. With Leunen swishing another 3 and Johnson adding another, Houston overcame its double digit deficit with an 11-0 blitz that got the Rockets right back in the game. At the other end of the floor, meanwhile, Houston’s defense enjoyed by far its best stretch of the event to date, wreaking havoc with the Grizzlies’ attack while forcing a whopping 15 first half turnovers.

But Memphis owned the second half, despite the best efforts of Johnson. The 2014 Pac-10 player of the year was everywhere, swishing tough floaters and long-range bombs on one end while soaring through the air to swat shots and snag rebounds at the other. But his one-man show proved to be no match for the balanced attack of the Grizzlies. Memphis reestablished its lead in the third quarter and then used a powerful finishing kick to put the Rockets away in the final frame.

The Rockets will conclude the Orlando portion of their summer league schedule Friday against the Brooklyn Nets before heading to Las Vegas for another set of games that begin Saturday in Sin City.

 

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