The 14-4 Memphis Grizzlies begin their longest road trip of young season so far as they visit the NBA’s three Mountain time zone teams. It starts with a game Wednesday at the 7-15 Phoenix Suns (8:00 pm Central, SportsSouth, FSN-AZ, NBA LP). The trip continues Friday night at the Denver Nuggets and Saturday at the Utah Jazz. Memphis has already played all three teams at home this season.
The Grizzlies, coached by Lionel Hollins, are coming off a 93-83 loss at home Saturday to the Atlanta Hawks. It was only the second home loss of the season for the Grizzlies. Going into that game, Memphis had the best record in the league. However, now they find themselves 2 games behind the 18-4 San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division.
The Suns are coached by Alvin Gentry, and are in last place in the Pacific Division. Phoenix has lost 8 of their last 9 games, including 7 in a row. Phoenix lost 98-90 at home to the Orlando Magic Sunday.
One of those games in the 7 game losing streak for the Suns came in Memphis last Tuesday. In that game Phoenix led by as many as 16 points in the first half. The Grizzlies chipped away at the lead and cut it down to 4 points at the end of the third. Memphis wouldn’t take the lead until just over a minute to go in the game by one point. The teams would go to overtime, and the Grizzlies dominated the extra session outscoring the Suns 14-4, allowing just 4 free throws. The Grizzlies won 108-98. The Suns and Grizzlies will play two more times on January 6 in Phoenix and February 5 in Memphis.
Memphis is outscoring teams 98-91 this season. They lead the league in points allowed and are #12 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 44.3% from the field and 36.5% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #14 in field goal percentage and #11 in three point shooting. Memphis is #3 in the league in free throw shooting at 79.7% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42.4 rebounds per game and give up 39.4. Memphis is #2 in rebounds allowed. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43.5% from the field and 35.1% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 12 in the league in both categories. The Grizzlies average 20.9 assists, 9.5 steals, 5.5 blocks and 14.9 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 19 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 17.6 points, 12.9 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.3 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding. Center Marc Gasol averages 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game to lead the team. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 14.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.3 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.
Phoenix is being outscored 103-98 this season. The Suns are 28th in the league in points allowed. The Suns are shooting 44.7% from the field and 34.2% from 3 point range. Phoenix makes 74.8% of their free throws. The Suns are averaging 40.1 rebounds per game and giving up 42.9. Sun opponents are shooting 47.5% from the field and 41.1% from 3 point range. Phoenix is 29th in opponents’ field goal percentage and last in three point defense. The Suns average 21.4 assists, 8.2 steals, 5.8 blocks and 14.3 turnovers a game.
Phoenix point guard Goran Dragic averages 15.1 points, 3 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 2 steals a game. He is probable with the flu. Power forward Luis Scola averages 12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists a game. Guard Shannon Brown averages 12.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Forward Michael Beasley averages 11.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a game. Center Marcin Gortat averages 11 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assist, and 2 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. Telfair (thigh) and Tucker (knee) are both questionable Wednesday.
The Grizzlies look to rebound from a disappointing loss to a very good Atlanta Hawks team. Phoenix looks to snap a 7 game losing streak. I think the Grizzlies win, but it will be close like the game last week in Memphis