Grizzlies-Suns Preview

Wins in Phoenix have been hard to come by for the Memphis

Grizzlies, and they could find themselves in an even bigger hole if

Zach Randolph can’t play.

The Grizzlies are hoping to have Randolph available as they try

to avoid a 12th loss in 14 road meetings with the scuffling Suns on

Sunday night.

Averaging 16.7 points and 12.3 rebounds to rank second in the

league, Randolph was scratched prior to Friday’s 86-84 loss to

Portland due to flu-like symptoms. Marreese Speights – starting in

place of Randolph – posted season highs of 22 points and 13 boards

for Memphis (20-10), which suffered its fourth defeat in six games

despite outscoring the Trail Blazers 46-28 in the paint.

Rudy Gay added 19 points and nine rebounds while Marc Gasol

scored 12 to go along with a franchise best-tying eight blocks.

“We went to Marc and we went to Rudy down in the post, but

obviously Z-Bo is the guy that we rely on in the post down the

stretch,” said coach Lionel Hollins, whose team was limited to a

season-worst 12 points in the fourth quarter. “Anybody who loses

one of their best players is going to feel it, and we felt it at a

crucial part of the game.”

Randolph traveled with the team to Phoenix (12-22) but his

status for Sunday is unknown. The former All-Star leads the NBA

with 22 double-doubles, two of which came against the Suns.

He proved nearly unstoppable with season highs of 38 points and

22 boards in a 108-98 overtime victory Dec. 4, then compiled 18 and

10 during a heartbreaking 82-80 road loss Dec. 12. The Grizzlies

are 6-28 all-time in Phoenix, though their last three losses there

have come by a combined 11 points.

Phoenix went on to win its next three games after its last

meeting with Memphis but has since dropped seven of eight while

averaging just 92.0 points.

Those offensive struggles were on full display Friday in an

87-80 loss to Utah, which limited the Suns to a season-low nine

points on 4-of-19 shooting (21.1 percent) in the second quarter.

Phoenix also managed just 40 points in the second half.

“We have to do a better job of getting ourselves in position and

getting ourselves set so that we can run our offense and execute it

to the point that we can get good shots,” coach Alvin Gentry

said.

In addition to getting outscored 60-28 in the paint, the Suns

turned the ball over a season-high 21 times and dropped to 1-9 when

committing 16 or more.

“Well obviously, the biggest problem was turnovers,” said Marcin

Gortat, who had 18 points and 11 boards. “Second thing, we are not

helping each other on all different screens and rolls. …

Basically, it is just all about competing and playing hard right

now. And quite honestly we are not doing it.”

The Suns are 5-20 when giving up more than 90 points but 7-2

when holding teams to that mark or lower. The Grizzlies have been

limited to an average of 87.7 points in their last six.

Goran Dragic, who scored the game-winning bucket versus Memphis

with 0.5 seconds remaining Dec. 12, is averaging 18.5 points on

51.7 percent shooting in two games in 2013.