The Rockets got the message and then routed the lowly Grizzlies.
Luis Scola had 22 points and 15 rebounds and Carl Landry scored 20 points in the Rockets' 104-79 victory. Trevor Ariza scored 17 points, Kyle Lowry had 10 assists, and rookie Chase Budinger had 15 points for the Rockets, who've won the last seven meetings against Memphis in Houston.
Houston led by five at halftime, and Adelman wasn't happy.
"Coach gave us a good talking to and we all got into each other," Lowry said. "This is the type of game where we said, 'Let's show what kind of team we're going to be.' And we responded really good."
The Rockets opened the second half with a 16-5 run, forcing turnovers and repeatedly beating the Grizzlies down the floor for easy baskets. Memphis missed seven of its first nine shots in the third quarter before O.J. Mayo's three-point play cut it to 59-46.
But the Rockets seemed to chase down every loose ball after the break and took a 74-57 lead to the fourth. Memphis went 7 for 20 from the field in the third quarter and gave up nine fast-break points.
"If we play like we played in the third quarter," Scola said, "we're going to be able to beat anybody."
Mayo scored 19 points, and Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph added 18 apiece for the Grizzlies, who've dropped seven straight games overall.
The Rockets matched a season high with 30 assists, finished with 27 fast-break points and shot 50 percent from the field (44 of 88).
"They did everything they wanted to do to get the win," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "Their will was stronger than our will."
The Rockets saved their best highlights for the final quarter.
Lowry led a fast break early in the quarter and flipped a pass to Ariza for an alley-oop dunk, prompting the loudest cheer of the night. Lowry picked up a steal on the Grizzlies' next possession and found Scola for a layup and an 82-62 lead. Budinger converted another alley-oop pass from Lowry into a dunk two minutes later.
"It was very contagious," Lowry said. "One guy gets a lob, the next guy wants a lob, the next big guy wants to get a fast-break dunk. We get the crowd into it and that's what happened tonight. Once we got it going, we kept it going."
The Rockets led only 20-17 after an ugly first quarter for both teams.
Houston had chances to build a wider margin early, but missed 12 of its first 16 shots from 3-point range. The Grizzlies also stayed close by outrebounding the Rockets 26-19 in the first half.
"At halftime, we talked about the fact that we didn't come out with the energy we needed to," Adelman said. "The first half, we didn't come out with a spark. The third quarter, we really turned it on."
Both teams came into the game wondering when their respective All-Star guards would be back in uniform.
Allen Iverson missed his third straight game after leaving the team over the weekend for "personal reasons." Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said he had "nothing new to report" on Iverson's status or immediate future with the team.
Meanwhile, Houston's Tracy McGrady was on the bench in street clothes after setting Nov. 18 as a "target" date for his return from offseason knee surgery. The Rockets have said that there is no firm timetable for McGrady's return.