Suns come up just short in loss to Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are leaning on point guard Mike Conley as they wait for other starters to return from injury.
He’s coming through. Conley matched his career high with 31 points and led a fourth-quarter rally as the Grizzlies defeated the Phoenix Suns 104-99 Friday night.
It marked Conley’s second consecutive game with at least 30 points as Memphis plays without center Marc Gasol, who is rehabbing a knee injury. Tony Allen, Conley’s backcourt mate, has missed three straight games with a sprained left wrist.
"(Conley’s) been great," said forward Zach Randolph, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Grizzlies. "The kid’s worked on his game, and he keeps getting better and better."
Ed Davis had 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds as the Grizzlies outrebounded the Suns 53-44. Mike Miller finished with 11 points, and Randolph tied his season high in assists with seven.
"We were really focused on getting boards, and they still get them," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said of the Grizzlies.
Conley was a key force in the fourth quarter when he scored five points in run that put the Grizzlies ahead for good. He finished the night 11 of 19 from the field, including 3 of 7 from outside the arc.
"I’m having fun with it," Conley said. "I’ve had games where I don’t play well and I’m still trying to carry the load and games where I do. I’m just having fun and trying to help us get wins."
Goran Dragic led the Suns with 21 points and eight assists. Markieff Morris came off the Phoenix bench for 17 points while Gerald Green had 12.
The Phoenix loss came on a day when the Suns announced that guard Eric Bledsoe, the team’s second-leading scorer, is out indefinitely after having surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Phoenix held an 88-86 advantage with about 6 minutes left when Memphis scored seven straight points. The Grizzlies took control as the Suns struggled from the field in the final quarter, connecting on only 9 of 27 shots, including 2 of 11 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Memphis hit 10 of 18 shots in the fourth.
You want to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. They made the plays that we didn’t. We missed layups. We had open shots. We just didn’t finish them.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek
"They are not known to be a 3-point shooting team," said Channing Frye, who scored 10 points for Phoenix, "but they hit some huge 3s down the end."
Hornacek, like others, did not lose sight of Conley’s impact. He talked about the point guard’s court vision and quickness, which kept the Grizzlies offense flowing.
"Mike Conley made a bunch of great plays at the end of the game," Hornacek said. "You want to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. They made the plays that we didn’t. We missed layups. We had open shots. We just didn’t finish them."
The Suns built a 10-point advantage before carrying a 55-48 lead into the break.
After Phoenix opened the third quarter by going 4 of 5 from 3-point range, Memphis chipped away, outscoring the Suns 16-7 in the closing minutes of the third to tie the game at 74 entering the fourth.
"We crashed the boards," Conley said of the second-half rally. "They started missing a couple of shots. They were making some tough shots throughout the game. We had a feeling that once they started to miss, we had to be there to get the rebound and go down on the other end and convert it."
NOTES: Memphis has won all three games in the series this season, holding Phoenix to 91 points in each of the first two victories. … Suns G Leandro Barbosa, signed to a 10-day contract earlier this week, scored four points in his return to the franchise. Barbosa played his first seven years in Phoenix and was the 2006-07 Sixth Man of the Year. …With the win, the Grizzlies have alternated wins and losses over the last nine games.