Their first game with some new faces went well for the Memphis Grizzlies, and now they’ve had a few days to really get on the same page.
Newcomer Tayshaun Prince and the Grizzlies look to take care of another inferior opponent and win the season series with the visiting Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye were with Memphis (30-16) for one day before making their debuts Friday after being acquired in a three-team deal that sent leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto. The Grizzlies lost 106-89 to Oklahoma City on Wednesday in their first game following the trade, but with their new players available two days later, they defeated East-worst Washington 85-76.
“I was worried,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “You never know. We had new players on the bench, so we had more people to work with. But you never know how it is going to work out when you have new guys for the first game.”
Hollins now has had time to get those new players more accustomed to his style and their teammates with three days off since the Washington game.
“Marc Gasol was pretty much directing me every time Mike (Conley) called a play,” said Prince, who shot 7 of 11 and had 14 points in 32 minutes off the bench. “There were times in the first half and the third quarter where we ran plays and I was kind of going here and going there not knowing what the situation was.”
Prince, who started 672 consecutive games for Detroit before the trade, eventually could replace Jerryd Bayless in the starting lineup. Bayless has mostly come off the bench but started the last three contests, averaging 22.0 points in the first two before scoring 11 on 4-of-13 shooting Friday.
Daye and Davis only played five minutes apiece.
It appears they won’t be major contributors, but Conley expects to step up. He’s averaged 17.5 points and 17.0 field-goal attempts in two games since Gay’s departure, well above his season averages.
“I’m a role player. I’ll do whatever I have to do to win the game,” Conley said. “Now, my role is to be more offensive-minded and try to make plays, be aggressive at all times and get up as many shots as I can.”
Memphis also expects Zach Randolph (15.5 ppg) to get back on track. He’s totaled 20 points over the past three games while shooting 9 of 34, but has grabbed 42 rebounds.
Randolph’s season highs of 38 points and 22 rebounds came in the Suns’ first visit to Memphis, a 108-98 Grizzlies overtime victory Dec. 4.
The teams have since split two meetings in Phoenix, with the Suns (16-32) averaging 81.5 points. Another low-scoring affair should be expected considering the Grizzlies are allowing a West-low 89.5 points per game, and the Suns are averaging 91.1 in their last 15.
Phoenix has lost four of five since winning Lindsey Hunter’s first two games as coach following Alvin Gentry’s firing. However, Golden State coach Mark Jackson had high praise for Hunter after his team defeated Phoenix 113-93 on Saturday.
“When you see a team like that, still battling, it’s a reflection of the job the coach is doing,” Jackson said. “He’s done a very good job of trying to change their culture and they are on their way.”
Michael Beasley scored at least 24 points for the third time in five contests, but the Suns fell to a West-worst 4-20 on the road.