Despite losing at the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night 99-95 in overtime to snap a four game winning streak, the Memphis Grizzlies still are tied for the best record in the NBA at 12-3 with the Miami Heat. Now the Grizzlies return home to face the 7-11 Phoenix Suns (7:00 pm Central, SportsSouth, NBA League Pass).
The Suns have lost 3 straight games, including 106-99 at the New York Knicks Sunday. They are in 4th place in the Pacific Division. The Suns are 2-8 on the road this season. The Grizzlies lead the Spurs by percentage points in the Southwest Division. The Grizzlies are 8-1 at home this season but only 5-3 against Western Conference teams.
Saturday night, Memphis had a 14 point lead against San Antonio with just over 9 minutes to go in the game but were unable to hold the lead. The Spurs sent the game into overtime, and jumped out to their biggest lead of the game as they led by 7 points. The Grizzlies pulled within 2 with under a minute to go but a costly turnover from back-up point guard Jerryd Bayless enabled the Spurs to hold on for the 4 point win.
The Suns will complete a six game road trip tonight against the Grizzlies. They are 1-4 on that trip, including the loss Sunday at the Knicks. The Suns have trailed by double digits at some point in 14 of their 18 games this season. Sunday was no exception as the Knicks led by 17 at halftime and at the end of the third. The Knicks held on for the 7 point win.
Phoenix won the season series against Memphis 2-1 last year, with the home team winning every game. The Suns won 86-84 and 98-91 in Phoenix and the Grizzlies won 104-93 in Memphis.
Phoenix is being outscored 103-98 this season. The Suns are last in the league in points allowed. The Suns are shooting 44.7% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. Phoenix makes 74.5% of their free throws. The Suns are averaging 41.3 rebounds per game and giving up 42.4. Sun opponents are shooting 47% from the field and 43.6% from 3 point range. Phoenix is 28th in opponents’ field goal percentage and last in three point defense. The Suns average 21.3 assists, 8.2 steals, 6.1 blocks and 14 turnovers a game.
Phoenix point guard Goran Dragic averages 15.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.9 steals a game. Power forward Luis Scola averages 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists a game. Guard Shannon Brown averages 12 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Forward Michael Beasley averages 11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a game. Center Marcin Gortat averages 11.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2.1 blocks per game. Forward Markieff Morris, Center Jermaine O’Neal, and guards Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, and P.J. Tucker make up the rest of the rotation. O’Neal is questionable with a right quad strain.
Memphis is outscoring teams 99-91 this season. They lead the league in points allowed and are #11 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 43.9% from the field and 37.0% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #10 in three point shooting. Memphis is #2 in the league in free throw shooting at 81.3% from the line. The Grizzlies average 41.8 rebounds per game and give up 40.3. Memphis is #7 in rebounds allowed. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43% from the field and 33.5% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 6 in the league in both categories. The Grizzlies average 21.7 assists, 9.5 steals, 5.3 blocks and 14.5 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 18.9 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. He is probable with a back injury. Forward Zach Randolph averages 16.3 points, 12.7 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.5 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding. Center Marc Gasol averages 15.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game to lead the team. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 15.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 2.6 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Guard Tony Allen, forward Marreese Speights, Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, Guard Wayne Ellington and forward Darrell Arthur make up the rest of the rotation. Allen starts at shooting guard but is probable with a groin injury after missing the last two games.
Phoenix looks to end their long road trip on a positive note, but they don’t match-up well with the Grizzlies. The Suns are probably the worst defensive team in the league, while Memphis is among the best if not the best in the league. If Gay and Allen don’t play, the Suns have a better shot obviously, but both are expected to play. The Grizzlies should roll tonight against a struggling Suns team, to put it mildly.