Phoenix is off to a 1-3 start for the third straight year, but managed to win the fifth game each of the last two seasons. A loss Friday would saddle the Suns with their worst start since opening the 1996-97 season with 13 straight defeats.
A big reason for the poor start involves getting beaten on the boards. Despite having one of the league’s top young forward duos in Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix is getting outrebounded by 7.5 per game, worst in the league.
“This deal gives us a physical, athletic presence that complements the style and direction of our team,” Suns general manager and president Bryan Colangelo said.
White appeared in only one game this season for Washington, but should get significant minutes off Phoenix’s bench. The 6-foot-9, 290-pounder has a career average of 6.4 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game in five-plus NBA seasons.
“It’s a big body that we certainly can use,” Suns coach Frank Johnson told the Arizona Republic. “I’m excited about him because we play in the West against more physical teams, and he gives us a presence there.
“We can’t expect him to do it by himself and be our savior.”
Memphis is a good opponent for the Suns to play to get on track in the rebounding department. The Grizzlies are getting outrebounded by 6.0 per game, second-worst in the NBA to Phoenix.
They had 13 fewer boards than the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday in a 93-87 defeat. The Grizzlies did not help their cause by shooting 25.6 percent (11-of-43) in the first half, getting outscored 50-32.
Memphis has won just twice in 16 trips to Phoenix and has just five victories in 31 all-time meetings with the Suns.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 5): Grizzlies - 6th place, 1 GB, Midwest Division. Suns - 6th place, 3 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Grizzlies - Gasol, 13.8 ppg; Swift, 7.3 rpg; Williams, 7.3 apg. Suns - Marbury, 20.8 ppg and 7.5 apg; Marion, 9.5 rpg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Suns, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: March 26; Suns, 101-99. At Memphis, Tenn., Marbury scored 23 points and converted a game-winning 3-point play with 1.2 seconds left.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Grizzlies - 1-1 on the road; Suns - 1-1 at home.