Preview: Suns at Grizzlies, 5:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
Now that the DeMarcus Cousins to Phoenix Suns speculation has been put to an end, the Suns can get back to business of developing their young talent.
Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac put an end Monday to rampant speculation that the last-place Suns would make a deal for the star center. “We hope he’s here for a long time,” Divac told ESPN.
Phoenix (16-36), which travels to Memphis for a Wednesday matchup with the Grizzlies, is mired in the middle of a trying season as it continues a youth movement. The team lost seven of its past eight games and sits at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
The Suns are coming off a 111-106 loss at New Orleans on Monday. Third-year forward T.J. Warren led the Suns with 20 points.
“He’s a great scorer,” Suns guard Devin Booker said of Warren, who is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals. “I don’t think a lot of people in the NBA know that, but they’re going to figure it out really quickly.”
Warren, who missed four weeks with a head injury, has been hot and cold since. But he remains confident.
“I just want to continue to do what I do best, which is score and finish as much as possible,” Warren said.
“(Consistency is) going to come back,” he told the Arizona Republic. “I know it. I still know how to put the ball in the basket. That’s never going to leave me.”
Guard Devin Booker struggled through a 5-for-20 shooting night against the Pelicans. But Phoenix coach Earl Watson said Booker can “make coaching seem easy” when he gets on a hot streak. In a Saturday loss to Milwaukee, Booker scored 27 of his 31 points in just over seven minutes.
Booker and point guard Eric Bledsoe both average just over 21 points for Phoenix.
Memphis’ fortunes are headed in a different direction than the Suns. The Grizzlies have won five of their last six and are a season-best 10 games over .500.
They are coming off their best defensive effort in nearly a month, holding San Antonio to 37 percent shooting — including 21 percent from 3-point range — in an 89-74 victory Monday.
In its past five wins, Memphis held opponents to 20 points or fewer in a quarter eight times.
“When everybody is connected defensively … communicating, being consistent and solid and being unselfish defensively, that puts us at a different level,” Memphis center Marc Gasol said after the win.
The Spurs were playing without leading scorer Kawhi Leonard (25.3 points per game) and center Pau Gasol, Marc’s brother.
“Obviously, it’s nice to catch the Spurs without Kawhi and Pau Gasol,” Memphis coach David Fizdale said, “so I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
This is the second of three games between the Suns and Grizzlies in a span of 29 days. Mike Conley scored 38 as Memphis beat the Suns 115-96 in Phoenix on Jan. 30. The two teams will meet for the third and final time this season on Feb. 28 in Memphis.
The Suns return home after Wednesday’s game to face the Chicago Bulls on Friday night before heading back out to Houston on Saturday.