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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, January 21st (All times eastern)

Houston Rockets (20-23) at Memphis Grizzlies (19-23), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of teams on the outside, looking in at the Western Conference playoff picture meet in the shadow of Beale Street Friday when the Memphis Grizzlies entertain the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets, who have won seven straight over Memphis by an average of nearly 15 points, are currently 3 1/2 games behind Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West and the Grizzlies are another half-game south, making tonight's contest very important.

Houston has been making a bit of a run recently, winning its third straight game on Wednesday when Kevin Martin led a balanced attack with 21 points, as the Rockets took down the Knicks, 104-89, in south Texas.

Kyle Lowry added 18 points for the Rockets, who are 12-9 in Space City but just 8-14 away from home. Chase Budinger and Luis Scola each donated 13 points and eight rebounds for Houston, which got 12 points apiece from Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier.

After tonight's contest the Rockets get right back to work by hosting Orlando on Saturday.

"We want to take it to four straight wins and then we can think about Orlando," Scola told the Rockets' website. "It's going to be a tough back-to- back but we need both games. We need go out there in Memphis and do a good job."

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, dropped their second game in a row in the Big Easy on Wednesday when Marcus Thornton's layup with 6.6 seconds remaining in overtime gave New Orleans the lead, and the Hornets held on for a 103-102 victory over Memphis.

The Grizzlies squandered two chances to win the game when Mike Conley was stripped at the end of regulation and Rudy Gay missed a 15-foot jumper at the overtime buzzer.

Conley and Gay had 22 points apiece to lead the Grizzlies, who have dropped four of their last six overall. Zach Randolph added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Marc Gasol scored 12 with 10 boards.

"It was definitely one we should have had," Randolph said. "We don't know how to win games at the end."

01/21 10:50:05 ET

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