MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Tony Allen was determined to stop Rockets leading scorer Kevin Martin.
He completely shut him down.
Mike Conley scored 21 points, Rudy Gay added 20 points and eight rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies held Martin scoreless for the first time in six years in the Grizzlies' 93-83 victory over the Rockets on Tuesday night.
Martin, who entered the game averaging 18.4 points per game this season and 25.8 in his career against the Grizzlies, played only 19 minutes. He was 0-for-3 shooting and limited to seven minutes in the second half.
Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins credited his defensive stopper, Tony Allen, for making matters difficult for Martin from the outset.
``He didn't get off to a quick start,' Hollins said of Martin. ``I thought Tony came out with the mindset that he was going to try to play him as hard as he could. Then the kid didn't make a couple of shots and things weren't going his way and they made a sub and played Courtney Lee.'
Allen knew of Martin's success against the Grizzlies. Martin averaged 31.4 points in four games against Memphis last season.
``I got a video edit of his last three games before the game and I was studying his tendencies,' Allen said. ``We were talking about Kevin in shoot-around and about him being a Grizzlies killer. We had our antennas up.'
Gay wasn't surprised by Allen's ability to shut down Martin.
``That's Tony Allen for you,' he said. ``He's going to be active. He's going to pressure you and that's what we love about him.'
Rockets coach Kevin McHale said the Grizzlies did a good job defensively on his entire team, not just Martin. The Grizzlies defense held Houston to 38 percent shooting. Kyle Lowry led the Rockets with 24 points, but the other four Houston starters were limited to 27 points on 12-for-32 shooting. No other starter was in double figures.
``They played harder than we did tonight,' McHale said. ``It took us a long time to get engaged in the type of game it was, which was going to be a grind-it-out one, as you could see (from) the first quarter. You can't ease into a game like that.'
Despite the strong defensive showing by the Grizzlies, the Rockets made a late run in the closing minutes. Memphis led by 15 early in the third quarter, but the Rockets trimmed the advantage to five points, 84-79, on Lowrys steal and layup with 2:58 left.
But Conley answered by scoring seven of the Grizzlies' final nine points, starting with a 3-pointer with 2:26 to go. His 3-pointer followed a scramble for a loose ball under the Grizzlies basket and gave Memphis an 87-79 advantage.
``It thwarted their momentum,' Hollins said.
The Grizzlies built a 52-43 halftime lead behind Gay, who had 12 of his 16 first-half points in the second quarter. Memphis led by 11 on two occasions in second quarter, the first on a 3-pointer by Conley from the left wing with 1:17 to go and again, at 52-41, following a three-point play by Marc Gasol with 39 seconds left. Gasol scored 18 points and had seven rebounds for the Grizzlies (15-14).
Memphis opened the second half on a 10-4 run to go up by 15.
In the first quarter, the Grizzlies fell behind, 13-8, before going on a 9-0 run ignited by Conley's first 3-pointer of the game. Memphis did not trail again in the opening half.
The Grizzlies shot 52 percent in the first half and their starters - Conley, Gay, Gasol, Allen and Marreese Speights - combined to go 21-of-31 for 68 percent.
NOTES: Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph has been cleared to begin non-contact drills and may return to the lineup by early March, according to team officials. Randolph tore his right medial collateral ligament Jan. 1 in a game against the Bulls in Chicago. ... Gay scored 20 or more points for the 14th time in 20 games. The Grizzlies are 11-4 when Gay scores 20 or more points. ... Houston finished its six-game road trip with a 3-3 record.
The Associated Press News Service
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