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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Houston Rockets' coach Kevin McHale searched more than three quarters for five guys who would play well together.
He almost ran out of time. But early in the fourth quarter, McHale finally hit the jackpot and the Rockets roared past the Memphis Grizzlies for a 93-86 road victory.
Chandler Parsons scored 17 points and Omri Casspi added 16 as the Rockets (10-5) won for the fifth time in six games. Houston outscored Memphis 38-23 in the fourth quarter, with Parsons and Casspi combining for 20 of those points.
"We just kept on trying to find a lineup that would really click," McHale said. "And that last lineup we had there did a great job."
Houston trailed for most of the night and its 93 points were a season low, but the Rockets made a 14-2 run early in the fourth quarter, pushing ahead 67-65 on a pair free throws by Casspi with 8:26 remaining.
The Rockets played without All-Star guard James Harden, who missed his second straight game with a sore left foot.
It was the Grizzlies' first full game since 7-foot-1 center Marc Gasol was lost indefinitely to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Memphis (7-7) had a 46-32 lead early in the third quarter, but couldn't hold it down the stretch.
"We had a great game plan and we did it for three quarters," Allen said. "They just turned into a whole different team once they set their starters down. Those guys penetrated the basketball, got into our soft spot. They made plays — Casspi was a difference-maker."
Tayshaun Prince led Memphis with 16 points. Allen added 15.
Houston's offense was missing a considerable chunk of its scoring without Harden, who is averaging 24.2 points per game.
The Rockets had a miserable offensive first half without him, turning the ball over 11 times and shooting just 11 of 32 from the field (34.4 percent), including 1 of 11 (9.1 percent) from 3-point range. The Grizzlies closed the second quarter on a 15-6 run to take a 44-32 halftime lead.
Houston finally found some rhythm in the second half, hitting five 3-pointers after starting 1 of 14 from behind the arc. The bench was key in the run, with Francisco Garcia hitting a 3-pointer to tie it at 65 — pumping his fist and screaming as he went back on defense. Casspi scored 11 points in the fourth quarter while Parsons had nine.
It was a hodgepodge lineup for most of the fourth quarter, with McHale leaning on Beverly, Garcia, Parsons, Casspi and Omer Asik. But it worked.
"When we move the ball and share the ball together, we are tough," Casspi said.
Parsons shot 8 of 9 from the field. The Rockets shot 23 of 37 (62 percent) in the second half.
"Tonight was ugly and we didn't do a lot of things right," Parsons said. "But we trust our coaches, we trust our offense and we continued to run it."
Memphis coach Dave Joerger says his team's offense will change considerably with Gasol out of the lineup. And at least for one night, it changed for the worse.
Gasol said pregame he expects to be on crutches for three to four weeks before he can even start work on his return. Kosta Koufos started in place of Gasol and had a productive night, with eight points and a season-high 13 rebounds.
But Mike Conley, the Grizzlies' leading scorer with more than 19 points per game, had a tough night, shooting just 2 of 14 from the field and finishing with 10 points and 10 assists.
Memphis had won five straight over Houston at FedExForum dating back nearly three years before Monday's loss.
NOTES: Memphis' Jon Leuer and Nick Calathes saw extensive playing time in the first half. Leuer had notched five straight DNPs before facing Houston while Calathes had DNPs in four of his last five. Both finished with four points. ... Memphis' Randolph had his streak of five straight double-doubles snapped. ... Houston's Howard was called for a technical foul early in the first half after a short argument with an official following a foul call. ... Houston's reserves scored 27 points, led by Casspi's 16. ... Asik has been buried on the bench for most of the past month, but chipped in with two points and 10 rebounds over 21 minutes against the Grizzlies.
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