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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Jalen Green's 34 points helps Rockets defeat Memphis, 111-91

POSTED: November 22, 2023 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- Jalen Green scored 26 of his season-high 34 points to lead the Rockets over the Memphis Grizzlies, 111-91, Wednesday night. Green made just 3 of his 10 field goal attempts in the first half; and, after the game, he acknowledged he was playing with bad energy in the first half.

Rockets' teammate Fred VanVleet told Jalen to keep his head up and get rid of the negative energy.

"Last two years, nobody woulda said nothing. We just woulda kept playing with that bad energy," Jalen said of the veteran pep talk VanVleet gave him.

Green heeded VanVleet's advice and lit up the Grizzlies in the second half making 10 of 16 field goal attempts including a nasty slam dunk over Memphis big man Jaren Jackson Jr with 2.7 seconds left in the third quarter.

Green's slam dunk energized his teammates so much the Rockets received a technical foul for too much celebrating. Jabari Smith Jr landed on the floor with his celebration.

"You saw my reaction. I fell. We ended up getting a tech; but, I was excited," Jabari said of Jalen's dunk.

The Rockets' offense was listless in the first half. Houston missed a lot of open looks; but, the Rockets' defense limited the short-handed Grizzlies to only 46 first half points.

Houston (7-6) made just 16 of 44 field goals (36.4 fg%) in the opening half. Jalen Green shot 5 for 8 in the third quarter and scored Houston's last 5 points in the third to give the Rockets a 74-68 lead after 3 quarters. VanVleet swished a three to begin the fourth quarter; then, Green scored Houston's next 7 points to increase Houston's margin to 14 (84-70) with 9:48 on the clock.

VanVleet sank two more threes during a 15-6 run to put the game away.

"I thought tonight was a good opportunity to let him flow," VanVleet said of Jalen's performance. "Let him see the floor; let him get involved. 26 shots which is good; 50 percents; so, he was huge for us -- especially in the second half."

Green's 13 for 26 field goal shooting Wednesday night topped his 9 for 25 shooting the last two ball games.

"I really wasn't tripping about the last game," Green said. "It was more just coming out; being aggressive; and doing what I can to help the guys win."

Green's 34 points is the 25th 30-point game of his young NBA career. Dating back to 1990-91, that is tied for the 10th-most by a player through the first 156 games played of a career.

Houston improves to 4-0 when holding opponents below 100 points this season. The last time the Rockets held the opposition below 100 points at least four times within the first 13 games of a season was five times in 2018-19.

Jabari Smith Jr. had 18 points on 6 for 10 field goal shooting, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range. Over the past three games, Jabari is averaging 16.3 ppg on 56.3% shooting after averaging 7.7 ppg on 37.0% shooting the three games prior.


The Rockets' next game is Friday, November 24, at home, against the Denver Nuggets. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.

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