HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Rockets signed Marcus Camby earlier this month hoping the veteran could help them compete for a postseason spot.
On Friday night, Camby had 16 rebounds, six blocked shots and two key baskets late to help the Rockets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 98-89.
Goran Dragic scored a season-high 25 points and Courtney Lee added 17 to give Houston its 12th straight win at home against Memphis, which hasn't won in Houston since April 2006.
``Marcus is just a real wily old pro that loves to compete and loves the game, so it's really good having him here,' Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
Houston led by six with 1:22 remaining before Camby made two baskets sandwiched around a layup by Rudy Gay to extend the lead to 97-89 about a minute later.
The 38-year-old Camby finished with seven points and two steals in his first start since joining the Rockets on March 15. Houston moved into seventh place in the Western Conference.
``Memphis is a team we are going to have to beat out for this playoff position,' Camby said of the Grizzlies, who are sixth in the West. ``We withheld their run and made a run of our own and going down the stretch we were able to make some plays to seal the victory.'
Camby has an injured wrist, but said he is playing with the injury because he ``can't afford to sit out' this late in the season.
Gay was impressed with Camby's work on Friday.
``Obviously he is a defensive presence,' Gay said. ``He knows exactly how to position against all the guys inside. He's another line of defense and they already have had a good defensive team. He fits right in with their style.'
Dragic has been starting at point guard with Kyle Lowry out with an illness. Friday's performance extended his streak of double digit scoring games to a career-high 14 in a row.
Gay had 20 points to lead Memphis, which started a span of seven games in nine days.
Grizzlies starting center Marc Gasol returned after missing the last game with a sore right ankle and had 19 points and nine rebounds. Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo chipped in 15 points each for Memphis.
``We couldn't get a key stop or a key rebound or a key loose ball or whatever down the stretch,' Allen said. ``They showed they wanted it more than we did. It's going to be a battle for the rest of the season.'
The Grizzlies got within three points with a tip-in by Hamed Haddadi with about 7 minutes remaining. Houston responded with a 6-2 run over the next three minutes to extend its lead to 88-81. Chase Budinger, who had 13 points, made his third 3-pointer of the second half less than a minute and a half later to put Houston up 91-83.
``I just really got that shot back in practice just by repetition and I went out there feeling confident,' Budinger said. ``I went out there and I was able to knock them down.'
Memphis scored five straight points capped by a pair of dunks by Gay, the second of which was a reverse slam, to tie it at 57-all with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter.
Houston built its lead to six points before Memphis used a 6-0 run to tie it again, this time at 64-64. But Budinger hit two 3s in the last 2 minutes of the quarter to power a 10-5 run that left Houston up 74-69 entering the fourth quarter.
The Rockets led by 11 points after the first quarter and scored the first six points of the second to extend their lead to 36-19. Memphis then used a 10-0 run, with six points from Mayo, to whittle the lead to 36-29 about seven minutes before halftime.
Houston was up 41-33 later in the quarter before the Grizzlies used a 15-8 spurt to end the quarter and cut the lead to 49-48 at halftime.
NOTES: McHale benched Patrick Patterson for the first half after he showed up late for Friday's shoot around. ... Gay played his 420th game for the Grizzlies on Friday, moving past Shane Battier for third on the team's list of most games played. ... Dante Cunningham was helped off the court just before halftime with a sprained right ankle and did not return for Memphis. ... Lowry has missed 12 games in a row because of a bacterial infection and Kevin Martin has been out 10 straight with a sprained right shoulder. ... The Rockets assigned forward Malcolm Thomas to D-League Rio Grande Valley on Friday. Thomas was signed to a 10-day contract by Houston on Tuesday.
The Associated Press News Service
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