Suns finish road trip with loss to Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis crowd was on its feet, the chants resonating through FedExForum in the final two minutes of overtime.
“Z-Bo! Z-Bo! Z-Bo!” the faithful hollered, acknowledging the dominance of forward Zach Randolph in a Grizzlies comeback.
Randolph set season highs with 38 points and 22 rebounds to carry the Grizzlies down the stretch for a 108-98 overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Randolph was 15 of 22 from the field and dominated in the latter stages of the fourth quarter and most of overtime. He also had three blocks, two in overtime, as Memphis outscored the Suns 14-4 in the extra period, with all the Suns’ points coming at the foul line.
Teammates said the performance was reminiscent of Randolph’s play during the 2011 playoff run, when Memphis defeated top-seeded San Antonio in the first round and carried Oklahoma City to a seventh game in the Western Conference semifinals.
“I saw the Zach from two years ago,” guard Mike Conley said. “The one where everybody is chanting: `Z-Bo.’ That’s what we like to see. We don’t want him to have to go for 40, or whatever he went for, every night, but we’ll take it whenever he wants to give it to us.”
“It brought up some memories, that’s for sure,” center Marc Gasol said.
Quincy Pondexter had a season-high 16 points for Memphis, while Gasol and Rudy Gay scored 14 apiece. Conley had 11 points for the Grizzlies, but went 2 of 9 from the field. Gay shot 5 for 12.
Randolph acknowledged the performance was his best since the 2011 playoff run. Last year, he was stymied physically after a knee injury early on caused him to miss a good portion of the season.
“It felt good. I know I could play this way,” Randolph said. “I felt like my old self. I’ve been doing some stuff on the offensive end. Making shots, hitting my little jump shot, my step back, my rip through. . I felt like my old self.”
Goran Dragic led the Suns with 19 points and seven assists. Luis Scola scored 16 and grabbed eight rebounds. Jared Dudley finished with 13 points and Jermaine O’Neal scored 12 for Phoenix, which lost its fourth straight.
It was Memphis’ second consecutive overtime game after a 99-95 loss at San Antonio on Saturday night. But for the Suns, the extra period may have been a bit too much. The game against the Grizzlies was the final stop on a six-game road trip.
“We played good for three quarters,” said Marcin Gortat, who had 11 points and seven rebounds. “Quite honestly, something just suddenly turned off. Someone turned off the switch, and we just stopped playing. That’s it.”
Phoenix, which led by as many as 16, saw its lead vanish in the last 1:10 of regulation. The game was tied at 94 after Gay connected on a 12-foot floater with 15.9 seconds left, and O’Neal’s shot at the buzzer was off the mark, leaving the game tied at 94.
“We had a chance to win the game, but in overtime they just took over,” Dudley said. “It was the Z-Bo show.”
Conley connected on a 3-pointer to open overtime, then Randolph hit three straight buckets, prompting the Memphis crowd’s chant.
“If you go back and look, he has always been 20-10 since he walked into the league,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of Randolph. “He is just a determined guy. He came up with a couple of really big rebounds (in overtime). He just worked himself to get them.”
The 10-point lead, reached on Conley’s two free throws with 50.9 seconds left, was Memphis’ largest of the game.
Memphis had a terrible time on offense in the first half. Phoenix was getting in the passing lanes and swatting balls away in the post. The result was Memphis committing 12 turnovers before the break.
No Suns were in double figures after the first half, but 10 players scored, four of them with eight points apiece.
Randolph had 16 points while Pondexter added 14, going 2 for 3 outside the arc. Their play at the end of the half made the deficit manageable.
Memphis tried to cut into the lead after halftime, but the Suns wouldn’t relinquish the advantage. Phoenix continued its balanced scoring with Dragic running the show and scoring along with contributions from Scola and Dudley.
Gortat’s jumper near the end of the third gave the Suns a 72-68 advantage entering the final period.
Phoenix held the lead between four and six points through much of the fourth, stretching it to eight at one point.
Memphis tied the game at 91 on Randolph’s rebound basket.
Then a steal by Conley led to a clear-path foul on Scola. Conley made one of two free throws for a 92-91 lead with 1:10 left for Memphis’ first lead since midway through the first quarter.
Scola’s 11-foot hook shot gave the Suns the lead back at 93-92 with 37 seconds left.
In the overtime, Phoenix just never got anything going on the offensive end and missed all five of its shots in the extra period.
“We have to finish games,” Gentry said. “We played great, but we have nothing to show for it.”
Memphis, meanwhile realized they had not matched the Suns’ play through most of the game, and the overtime gave them an opportunity to escape, using Randolph as the catalyst.
“They had given us everything they could and made a lot of shots and shot the ball very well,” Conley said of the early play. “Eventually, it didn’t fall for them, and we were able to get the ball inside to the big fella (Randolph), and let him take us home.”
NOTES: Phoenix closed out a six-game road trip, its longest of the season, with a 1-5 record. … Memphis is now 5-0 with at least two days’ rest. … The Suns have trailed by double digits in 15 of 19 games this season. … O’Neal, who missed Sunday’s game against the Knicks with a right quad strain, returned to action against the Grizzlies. … It was Randolph’s highest point total in a Grizzlies uniform and was the fourth 30-20 game of his career.