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Grizzlies, Rockets begin home-and-home set

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets have won three straight and will try to keep the strong play going Friday night when they open a home-and-home series with the Memphis Grizzlies at the Toyota Center.

The two Southwest Division rivals will meet at FedExForum Saturday night.

Houston has been playing good ball since long before the three-game winning streak. The Rockets have taken six of seven and eight of their last 10. They will wrap up and five-game homestand on Friday where they've gone 3-1 thus far.

Dwight Howard, who was shockingly overtaken in the final week of voting for a starting spot on the Western Conference All-Star team, recorded a double- double of 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a 119-98 drubbing of the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. James Harden tallied 24 points with nine assists and Chandler Parsons had 19 points with 10 rebounds in the win.

Omri Casspi contributed 20 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, while Jeremy Lin added 13 points as a reserve for Houston, which has won three straight overall and six of its last seven.

"I thought we had good ball movement," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "I thought our defense at times was really, really good tonight. Guys were just making simple plays."

The Grizzlies saw a five-game winning streak come to an end Monday afternoon when the New Orleans Pelicans walked into Memphis and left with a 95-92 victory.

Memphis never played great on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but had a chance late. Marc Gasol split two free-throws with 29.9 seconds remaining to pull the Grizzlies within 95-92.

Memphis elected to play out the ensuing Pelicans possession instead of fouling. New Orleans' Brian Roberts missed a jumper with the shot clock running down, but Eric Gordon pulled down the offensive rebound to seal the outcome.

"We are not going to play better until we play harder. We have to play harder, we have to run harder, we have to screen harder and we have to defend harder from the first minute of the game," said Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. "We cannot try and wait until there are five or six minutes left in the game and try to go like crazy."

Zach Randolph played hard on Monday. He tallied 23 points and 20 rebounds for Memphis, followed by 19 from Courtney Lee, 14 out of Gasol and 13 from Mike Conley.

The Grizzlies committed 18 turnovers in the loss.

After Saturday's showdown in Memphis, the Grizzlies head out on a three-game road trip to Portland, Sacramento and Minnesota.

The Rockets won both of this season's meetings with Memphis, but these two teams have split the last 10 matchups.

01/24 09:59:00 ET

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