The Memphis Grizzlies are happy to be home, but they are sure to be challenged this week. They already know how tough the Phoenix Suns can be.
The Grizzlies open a grueling three-game homestand Monday night when they meet the Suns for the second time in four days.
Article continues below ...
Memphis (3-4) salvaged the finale of a four-game road trip with a 100-91 win over Sacramento on Saturday. Rudy Gay continued his surge with 32 points, while Zach Randolph added 20 and 11 rebounds.
“We wanted to win one going back home for a nice home stretch and take the energy back home,” guard O.J. Mayo said.
The Grizzlies’ opponents on this homestand – Phoenix (3-3), Dallas and Boston – were all in the playoffs last season. The Suns and Grizzlies played one of the most entertaining contests of this early season Friday, won 123-118 by Phoenix in double overtime.
That game featured a bizarre end to regulation as the Suns’ Jason Richardson scored five of his 38 points in the final 1.1 seconds of the fourth quarter. Richardson finished with 38 points while Steve Nash had 25 and nine assists.
The Grizzlies, who led by as many as 18 points in the first half, wasted 26 points apiece from Gay and Marc Gasol. The loss created a sense of urgency Saturday, and Memphis responded with a strong effort.
“That game (against Phoenix) we should have had,” said Gay, who averaged 30.2 points on the trip. “(Saturday), we wanted to make sure we came out to assert ourselves and make sure the outcome goes our way.”
Randolph and Gasol are back after combining to miss five games due to injuries. Memphis feels it is finally getting accustomed to playing with its top post players.
“We are full throttle right about now,” Mayo said. “Earlier in the season, big fella (Gasol) and Zach were hurt and we weren’t at full throttle. Now they are getting their legs back, they are getting into game shape, and I look for us to make a nice run.”
Phoenix believes it is adjusting well to life without Amar’e Stoudemire, who joined New York in the offseason. The Suns, who led the league in scoring the previous two seasons, have put together their two highest point outputs of 2010-11 in consecutive wins.
Richardson scored 21 points and Nash added 19 with a season-high 15 assists in Sunday’s 118-114 victory at Atlanta.
“It’s going to take us a month, two months, to get to the point where we really know who we are,” Nash said. “The biggest thing is cohesion. It’s just going to take a little time. … I think we’re getting better. We’re not there yet but we’re getting better.”
The Suns continue to use a small lineup with veteran newcomer Hedo Turkoglu playing power forward for the first time in his career. The Grizzlies again plan to try to exploit the Suns’ interior defense.
“The game plan all night was to attack the rim through the post ups or through the drive and I thought we did that for the most part,” Memphis assistant David Joerger said about Friday’s meeting.