Suns-Grizzlies Preview

The Memphis Grizzlies were one of the NBA’s toughest teams to

beat on their home floor in 2012-13.

This season? Not so much.

They’ll again try to solve their home woes Tuesday night against

the Phoenix Suns, though they might have to do so without Zach

Randolph again in addition to the already-sidelined Marc Gasol.

The Grizzlies (8-8) can pin a big portion of the blame for their

mostly lackluster start on their poor play at home. At 3-5 compared

to 5-3 away from home, they’re the only Western Conference team

with a better record on the road than at home.

Memphis’ 97-88 setback against Brooklyn on Saturday – the opener

of a six-game homestand – marked its fourth straight home defeat.

It’s unfamiliar territory for a team that posted a franchise-best

32-9 home record last season. The Grizzlies’ 143 wins at home over

the last three seasons tied for the league’s sixth most over that

span.

They’re allowing opponents to shoot 51.0 percent in the first

quarter of home games.

“It’s very frustrating,” said point guard Mike Conley, who had

16 points and 10 assists against the Nets for his second

double-double. “We’re a great home team. We’ve always been a great

home team. Our fans are great and they deserve better. We have to

come ready to play from the first quarter with more energy.”

Turning things around could be particularly difficult with Gasol

still out due to a sprained MCL. Zach Randolph missed Saturday’s

game after having surgery on an ingrown toenail earlier in the day

and is considered day-to-day. Each averages 16.0 points, second on

the team behind Conley’s 18.3. They’re also Memphis No. 1 and No. 2

rebounders with Randolph averaging 9.1 and Gasol 7.1.

Randolph is averaging 22.7 points and 12.5 rebounds while

shooting 57.6 percent from the field over his last 16 games versus

Phoenix.

The starting front line of Kosta Koufos, Tayshaun Prince and Ed

Davis combined for 20 points on 10-of-25 shooting with 20 rebounds

Sunday.

Memphis had won five of six home meetings in the series until a

96-90 defeat on Feb. 5.

Phoenix (9-8) comes in having won three of its last four road

games but is still seeking better consistency overall. The Suns

took a 112-104 home loss to Utah on Saturday after knocking them

off 112-101 in Salt Lake City a night earlier and ending Portland’s

11-game winning streak on Wednesday.

They have yet to win more than two games in a row.

“Our guys thought they could just show up tonight and win the

game and in this game it doesn’t happen that way, but they don’t

want to listen to it,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Coaches are

telling them they have to be ready and that’s what happens.”

Goran Dragic, who had 24 points and nine assists Saturday, is

scoring 20.8 points per game with 9.7 assists in his last six

contests.

Conley is averaging just 8.5 points on 28.9 percent shooting in

his last four games against Phoenix.