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  • After limiting star guards O.J. Mayo and Monta Ellis to a combined 14 points on 4-for-25 (16.0 percent) shooting in the Grizzlies’ last two victories, Tony Allen will have another opportunity to showcase his elite defensive skills against the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer, James Harden. “We’re going to put Tony on Harden and try to slow him down as much as we can,” Hollins said. “But [the Rockets] have a whole lot of other people that they go to besides Harden. … It’s a little bit different scenario [than the previous two games], but … if we need [Tony] out there [on the court], he’s going to be out there.”
  • Allen’s defensive prowess aside, Memphis’ frontcourt of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph is Rockets coach Kevin McHale’s main concern entering Saturday’s game. McHale said he is open to playing centers Omer Asik and Greg Smith together for lengthy spurts to match the Grizzlies’ brawn, but he also wants to rely upon undersized forward Marcus Morris’ offensive range to pull the opposition’s big men away from the basket. “[Asik and Smith] have to set some wide pin-downs and more picks, not spread as much and try to get to the offensive glass,” McHale said. “Marcus is going to have to take advantage of Zach with running and spreading and getting Zach out of the paint. … I don’t think Marcus is going to grow much between now and game time, so he’s going to have to play his game.”
  • Memphis, which has lost 12 consecutive games in Houston, has not won at Toyota Center since April 15, 2006. The Grizzlies have not allowed more than 99 points in 23 consecutive games, while Houston has netted 115.4 points per contest over its last nine home games. “We’ve been very, very focused in our defense,” Hollins said. “We’ve covered the paint, helped and made second and third effort night in and night out.”

Matt Miller

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