Suns hope to add to Grizzlies’ home miseries
By JORDAN GARRETSON
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.