Houston Rockets Stat Monkey Brief: Rockets/Grizzlies (12/22/12)

The Grizzlies are hot, but their slow pace could play into Houston's hands according to Christopher Lee.

Grizzlies at Rockets (12/22/12)

Coming off two straight impressive wins over the Knicks (109-96) and the Sixers (125-103), the young Rockets may have turned a corner. James Harden and Jeremy Lin have thrived together of late, combing for an average of 50 points in the two games. The recent performance has Rockets fans buzzing with optimism, and for good reason. At 13-12, the Rockets are have exceeded most expectations thus far.

Lin and Harden

But Houston will face a big test tonight against the hot Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz have won their last four and have the NBA’s best defense, giving up just 98 points per 100 possessions and holding opponents to 42.8 percent field goal shooting. In the team’s last meeting, Memphis won 93-89 at home as Houston committed 20 turnovers and gave up 21 fast break points. The Rockets turn the ball over 16.2 times a game at home, the worst in the league. They will need to limit those errors tonight against the stingy Memphis defense.

The Key Matchups

The game features great individual matchups across the board. First of all, tonight features two of the Association’s best rebounders as Zach Randolph (12.9 rpg) and Omer Asik (11.4 rpg) will go at it. Both players grab an impressive 20+ percent of all available rebounds when they are on the court.

Also keep an eye on Harden, who will have his hands full with All-NBA Defensive player Tony Allen. In October, Allen blanketed Harden, who was limited to just 4 for 18 shooting and 15 points.

A Sharp Contrast in Pace

Memphis comes into this game with an average of 90.2 possessions per 48 minutes, 25th in the league. This may bode well for the Rockets, who appear to be more comfortable against slower paced teams, posting an 8-4 record against the ten slowest paced NBA squads (although two of those wins were against the Pistons). This is in sharp contrast to Houston's 1-6 performance thus far against the fastest teams. On the other hand, three of Memphis' five losses came against faster paced teams, two of those defeats coming at the hands of the average Nuggets.

Teamvs. 10 Fastest Paced Teamsvs. 10 Slowest Paced Teams