Jason Williams shot 36 percent from the floor and 31 percent from the three point line leading up to tonight's game against the Rockets. How quickly things change.
The Rockets, with their two best players back in Houston with injuries, decided to leave Jay-Dub by his lonesome and the White Shadow made them pay with a career night scoring 38 (a career high), hitting six trey's, dishing 11 assists and swiping 4 steals leading the Grizzlies to a 102-85 win.
Houston's first visit to the Pyramid seemed like good timing. The Rocks had lost 3 in a row and 4 of their last 5 coming into their first visit to Beale Street and the Grizz had only won 2 all year. Add to that the fact that they played a tough back-to-back game in Toronto the night before while the Rockets watched on their hotel televisions and it looked good for the pinstripe brigade.
Well, it was fairly close in the first half. Despite coming out sluggish, the Rockets went on an 8-0 run early to take the lead before Memphis crawled back to trail by only 1 after the first.
Williams had yet to heat up and struggled from the floor while Kenny Thomas (14 points on 6-11 shooting and 5 boards) and Kelvin Cato (2 blocks) began strong with some tough defense and solid play on the offensive end.
Even the disappearing Glen Rice got into the act scoring 7 in the first including a triple.
But the game was only beginning and there was a whole lotta ugly to come. The lead changed seven times in the first half and the teams went to the locker room tied at 41.
In the third, someone woke up Williams. He bombed away from everywhere hitting all but 2 of his shots scoring 18 in the quarter easily eclipsing his season high of 22 points.
Shane Battier joined in going 4-4 from the three point line finishing with 18 points. In fact, the rookie duo of Battier and Pau Gasol were dominant combining for 35 points and 13 rebounds while our rook, Eddie Griffin struggled badly hitting zero shots in five attempts and grabbing only one board.
Memphis poured it on in the third outscoring the Rockets 34-17 to lead 75-58 going to the fourth.
One complete oddity was the fact that the Grizz managed only 3 free throws for the entire GAME! In fact, they didn't even get their first until the 1:31 mark of the third quarter.
As promising as that sounds, the Rockets typical offensive collapse was too much to overcome. Between the 4:36 mark in the third quarter and 7:20 remaining in the game, Houston had ONE FIELD GOAL!
If it wasn't for the scoring of Kevin Willis (14 points) and Walt Williams (15 points, 7 rebounds) from the line and the floor, this game would have been much, much worse.
It was easy to see that things were going bad when, in a 2 minute span in the fourth, JW dished off to Battier for a three, hit a 30-foot BOMB and hit Battier again for another three. After that, it was just a matter figuring out of the final score.
On the bright side, while Moochie Norris had an awful shooting night scoring only 4 on 2 of 10 from the floor, he did grab 9 boards and dish 7 assists while young Tierre Brown had 12 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
Lest we forget that we had a 2-minute Dan Langhi sighting and Terence Morris managed to get into the NBA scoring column as time ran out in the 4th quater. Congrats!
All fun aside, the Rockets looked pretty awful out there shooting poorly again. The offensive lapses this season have been brutal and come at terrible times. Even in their wins, they have yet to be overwhelming and this marks a particularly rough low spot. With Steve Francis out at least a month and Cuttino Mobley hobbling on two swollen ankles, it could prove to be a long, cold December.
On to San Antonio and the waiting Spurs tomorrow.
Kelvin Cato started the game strong with a pair of blocks and an offensive board, but the Rockets stuggled early missing shots and turning the ball over taking a timeout with the Grizz leading 9-4.
Out of the timeout, the Rockets run a perfect play with Oscar Torres hitting Kenny Thomas for an easy dunk.
Houston continued to improve going on an 8-0 run capping it with a layup from Glen Rice. The Grizz started strong going 2-3 from the field but followed it up with 2-10 shooting.
For Memphis, Jason Williams was shooting from everywhere hitting a three but also missing some ridiculous shots.
The Grizz show that they are one of the best stealing teams in the league picking up several early.
Torres made a tremendous move down the lane gets the basket plus the foul. Torres hit the freethrow to give the Rocks their largest lead of the game, 22-15.
Williams who has only been shooting 36 percent from the field and 31 percent from the three-point line has 9 in the first on 4 of 6 from the field with a three.
Grizz go on a 6-0 run punctuated by a Gasol dunk on a fast break to make it 21-20 Rockets including a Moochie turnover (the 6th of the 1st quarter). The quarter ended 22-21 Rockets.
The Rockets and Grizzlies started unevenly with wild shots and some turnovers. The Rockets led by as many as three but rookie Shane Battier and Brevin Knight hit a pair of jumpers to take the lead 27-26.
Houston was only 5-13 from the field for 38 percent in the 3rd with mostly reserves but Tierre Brown didn't look bad making a nice move to the basket for a layup to make it 33-32 Memphis.
Nick "I still have no confidence because I missed those 4 freethrows against the Rockets in the finals in 1994" Anderson hit a jumper to make it 37-34 but the Rockets came back with 7 points in a row including 5 from the Walt Williams.
With 25 seconds left, the Rockets had the ball and took it down to about 5 seconds before JW came up with is 4th steal and an easy layup. The half ended with the teams tied 41-41 in a close game that saw seven lead changes in the first half and only 1 freethrow taken by either team.
Williams and the Grizzlies started to take over in the second half. Willams led off with a pair of three's putting Memphis ahead by 6.
Moochie broke the run with a great pass to Cato for a left-handed alley oop slam but Williams comes back with his 4th three of the night to give the Grizz a 9-point lead.
Williams can't miss in the 3rd hitting another jumper with Rice in his face giving Memphis their largest lead of the game at 10 (63-53) with 5:23 left in the 3rd. The Rockets couldn't stop JW who eclipsed his career high in scoring with nearly 4 minutes left in the third.
Williams finished the third with 18 points and the Grizz led 75-58 after three quarters of play.
Once again the cold shooting of the Rockets in the fourth quarter was their downfall as they went nearly 6 minutes without a field goal. The Wizard and Kevin Willis managed to keep them alive with freethrows, but that was it.
The Rockets managed to close within 11 when Gasol put back an offensive board to make it 77-64. Then, as the shot clock was going off, Williams dished off his 10th assist to Battier for a three.
Soon after, Williams dropped in a 30-foot bomb and Battier followed with another three and the game was basically over.
The only positive was Terence Morris finally getting in the scoring column on a a layup with 6 seconds left in the game.
Jeff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org