The Memphis Grizzlies came into Tuesday night’s home game against the 7-11 Phoenix Suns tied for the NBA’s best record with the Miami Heat at 12-3. Phoenix had lost 3 straight games and was on the last game of a 6 game road trip in which they were 1-4. The Grizzlies might have thought it would be an easy night, but you always have to bring your A Game no matter who you are playing. On any given night, any NBA team can beat any other team. For example, the one win Washington Wizards upset the Heat tonight 105-101.
The Grizzlies were sluggish in the first half. Phoenix jumped out to a 25-18 first quarter lead, closing the quarter on a 9-2 run. The Suns expanded the lead to 30-18 and led by as many as 16 before Memphis closed the quarter on a 16-7 run to make it 52-45 Suns at the half. The Grizzlies had 12 turnovers in the first half and were 12/31 shooting from the field (39%)
The Suns maintained the lead through the third quarter, and took a 72-68 lead into the fourth quarter. The Suns could never pull away and led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies took their first lead since the first quarter 92-91 on a Mike Conley free throw with 1:09 left in the fourth. The Suns took a 94-92 lead with 26 seconds left. Memphis forward Rudy Gay tied it up with a shot from 12 feet out with 15 seconds left. Phoenix center Jermaine O’Neal missed a 20 foot jumper at the buzzer that would have given the Suns the win.
It was the second overtime game in a row for the Grizzlies after they lost to the San Antonio Spurs 99-95 Saturday night. The Grizzlies would not lose two overtime games in a row. They dominated the period 14-4 against Phoenix allowing just 4 Suns’ free throws. Conley buried 2 free throws with 50 seconds left to make it 108-98. Neither team would score again. It was the 15th time in 19 games that the Suns have trailed by double digits at some point in the game. Phoenix has lost 4 straight games. Memphis improved to 13-3 and Phoenix dropped to 7-12 on the season. The Grizzlies are 9-1 at home this season, and the Suns are 2-9 on the road.
Phoenix shot 46.3% from the field including 6/14 from 3 point range. The Suns made 16 of 22 free throws. Phoenix had 32 rebounds, 22 assists, 12 steals, 5 blocks and 16 turnovers. The Suns scored 18 fast break points and 38 points in the paint.
Suns’ point guard Goran Dragic had 19 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals. Forward Luis Scola had 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. O’Neal had 12 points, 2 rebounds, a steal, and 2 blocks. He played despite straining his right quad in the Suns’ last game at the New York Knicks Sunday. Center Marcin Gortat had 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block. Guard Shannon Brown had 10 points, 2 steals and a block.
Despite the awful first half shooting, Memphis still ended up shooting 47.1% from the field for the game, including 4/19 from 3 point range. The Grizzlies made 24 of 31 free throws. Memphis had 50 rebounds, 13 assists, 11 steals, 9 blocks, and 19 turnovers. The Grizzlies had 9 fast break points and 60 in the paint.
Memphis forward Zach Randolph had a monster game tonight. Z-Bo had 38 points, 22 rebounds, a steal, and 3 blocks. After battling nagging injuries last season, many say he looked almost as dominant as he did during the Grizzlies’ memorable playoff run in 2011. He took over in overtime with 3 straight baskets to give the Grizzlies the lead for good, along with 2 blocks in the period. Forward Quincy Pondexter had 16 points, 3 rebounds, an assist, and a steal off the bench. Gay had 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. Center Marc Gasol had 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block. Conley had 11 points, 5 rebounds, an assist, and 2 steals.
Although it wasn’t pretty at times, the Grizzlies didn’t fold their tents when down 16 points and fought back for the win. The Grizzlies still have NBA’s best record, all alone with Miami being upset tonight. Next up, the Grizzlies will travel to New Orleans to take on the 5-11 Hornets Friday night. Phoenix will host the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night on TNT.