Grizzlies, Rockets battle for postseason position

A pair of Western Conference teams fighting for playoff position will meet in south Texas on Friday as the Houston Rockets play host to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies, who are beginning a rough stretch of five games in six nights, are currently the fifth seed in the West, 1 1/2 games clear of Houston as well as Utah and Denver. The Rockets, meanwhile, stand at No. 8 if the season ended today, losing the tiebreaker with the Jazz but owning it against the Nuggets.

The Grizzlies earned their second straight win on Tuesday, topping Minnesota 93-86 on Beale Street behind Rudy Gay's 21 points and Marreese Speights' 18.

Dante Cunningham, starting in place of injured All-Star center Marc Gasol, added 13 points, a season-high 14 rebounds and four blocks. Memphis was coming off Sunday's win over the Lakers, which halted a three-game slide.

"We just went out there with a chip on our shoulder," said Speights. "We've not been playing Grizzlies basketball lately. We knew Marc (Gasol) was out so we had to step up tonight and come through. We did that tonight."

Gasol continues to be listed as questionable with a sore right ankle but is expected back in the lineup tonight as Memphis attempts to halt an 11-game slide against Houston in Space City.

The Rockets are coming off a pair of losses to in-state rival Dallas that sandwiched a win over lowly Sacramento.

Most recently, Houston fell to the Mavs in Big D, 90-81, on Tuesday.

The Rockets led by as many as 16 in the game, but were outscored 44-32 in the second half to suffer the loss. Luis Scola had 22 points and eight rebounds, Goran Dragic chipped in 17 points and Chandler Parsons finished with 15.

"I thought they amped it up defensively," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "They put (Shawn) Marion and some different guys on Goran to try and slow him down some. But we had some looks, we had our opportunities, [but] we're a team that we're going to have to make some of our shots. That's just kind of the way we're constituted."

The Rockets have hung tough over the past few weeks despite being without their starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry, who is out with a bacterial infection, and Kevin Martin, who is dealing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

The Grizz haven't won in Houston since a 93-81 triumph on April 15, 2006.