Suns-Grizzlies Preview

Blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to their division rivals,

the Memphis Grizzlies missed out on a chance to make an early


The Grizzlies have an opportunity to bounce back on Tuesday

night when they host the Phoenix Suns, who will try to avoid a

fourth straight defeat.

While the Spurs’ Big Three were refreshed following two days off

that ultimately cost the team a $250,000 fine, the Grizzlies were

playing the second half of a back-to-back on Saturday night.

Memphis (12-3) led 76-62 with 9:41 to play, but couldn’t hold on

in a 99-95 overtime loss at two-time Southwest Division champ San


“We don’t use any excuses here,” said guard Mike Conley, who

finished with 18 points and 12 assists. “We felt like we had a

chance to win the game regardless of back-to-back or resting.”

The Grizzlies, though, appear to be in a better position against

the Suns (7-11). Since the season opener, they’re 4-0 with at least

two days rest.

The extra time could benefit big man Zach Randolph, who has shot

8 of 29 from the field in his last two games. He’s averaging 18.0

points with a 51.7 field-goal percentage and 12.3 rebounds with at

least two days rest.

After posting double-doubles in his first 11 games of the

season, Randolph has just two in his last four following a

17-point, 15-rebound effort against the Spurs. Rudy Gay finished

with 15 and 10, respectively, for his first double-double of the


Gay played a major role in the team’s only win over Phoenix in

2011-12, scoring 32 points in a 104-93 victory on April 11. He

averaged 23.0 points in the three meetings last season.

Starting guard Tony Allen, who missed the final game against

Phoenix last season because of a facial laceration, is questionable

with a groin injury.

The Grizzlies are tied with Miami for the best record in the

NBA, but they fell to 5-3 against Western Conference opponents.

Still, Memphis will try to continue its franchise-best 8-1 start at

home against a Suns team that is 2-8 on the road.

Phoenix is 1-4 heading into the finale of its six-game road trip

and has lost three in a row following a 106-99 defeat at New York

on Sunday.

Goran Dragic, the team’s leading scorer at 15.6 points entering

the contest, finished with a season-low nine against the


Marcin Gortat finished with a team-high 18 points and 10

rebounds for the Suns, who have trailed by double digits in 14 of

their 18 games.

“When you get down 15, 20 points, you kind of need a perfect

storm to come back,” said forward Michael Beasley, who had nine

points. “I feel like we’re relying on that perfect storm in too

many of our games.”

Gortat was one of the biggest reasons Phoenix took two of three

from the Grizzlies last season, averaging 15.7 points and 8.7

rebounds. Jared Dudley, now a bench player for the Suns, totaled 39

points in the two victories over Memphis.

The Suns, though, will have to find a way to improve

defensively. They’ve allowed a league-worst 102.7 points per game,

including 108.0 during their three-game losing streak.

They might have to do it without forward Jermaine O’Neal, the

team’s second-leading shot blocker. O’Neal, who averages 1.7

blocks, could be out for a second straight game due to a right

quadriceps strain.