Memphis (15-16) at Phoenix (21-12)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 85° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Sat Jan 2, 2010
  • TV: FSTN, My45
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies were very happy about how they ended 2009, but only one of them will feel as good about how the new year begins.

Five days after a statement-making victory, the Suns hope to avoid handing one to the upstart Grizzlies on Saturday night.

Phoenix entered December with a 14-3 record but went on to lose nine of 14, including last Saturday’s defeat to a last-place Golden State team which had dropped seven straight.

The Suns (21-12), though, recovered two nights later to dominate the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in a 118-103 win. They led the Western Conference leaders by double digits for the final 16 minutes.

Phoenix then knocked Boston off the top of the East standings with Wednesday’s easy 116-98 victory, though the Celtics were missing Kevin Garnett(notes) and Paul Pierce(notes).

Grant Hill(notes) credited coach Alvin Gentry for this week’s turnaround.

“After that Golden State game we came in and Alvin had a good talk with us before the Lakers game,” Hill said. “He just really emphasized what we needed to finish up for December, and everything we seemed to have fixed. Hopefully we have fixed those little things and we can turn the corner and get a little hot and get on a roll.”

The Grizzlies (15-16) have been on one, winning five of six. A victory Saturday would put them at .500 this far into a season for the first time since ending 2005-06 at 49-33.

Phoenix won’t be the easiest place to do it - the Suns are 13-2 at home - but a win would be a huge confidence builder for a Grizzlies team which is 5-11 on the road.

They’ve lost seven in a row at Phoenix and are 4-24 there all-time. The Suns have won 12 of the last 13 meetings overall.

The only matchup this season saw Memphis lose 126-111 at Phoenix on Nov. 25 as Amare Stoudemire scored 28.

“They (the Grizzlies) wanted to stop our penetration and they wanted to get to Amare. They did neither,” Steve Nash(notes) said after handing out 16 assists in that win.

The Suns have won 11 in a row against Memphis when Stoudemire has played, as he’s averaged 24.7 points on 65.9 percent shooting.

Stoudemire’s 18-point first quarter keyed the win over Boston and he finished with 26 for the third time in four games.

He’ll have a tough matchup against Zach Randolph(notes), averaging 28.2 points and 17.3 rebounds over the last six games.

Randolph, the only one of the Grizzlies’ top nine scorers who is older than 24, played a major role in the team going 9-4 in December.

“There’s no reason not to expect more months like this past one,” 22-year-old point guard Mike Conley(notes) told the league’s official Web site. “Over this month of December, we’ve shown how good a team we can be. We’re only going to get better.”

Marc Gasol(notes) appears to be getting better, posting five double-doubles in the last six games. He had 21 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday while Rudy Gay(notes) scored 31 in a 121-110 victory at Indiana.

The Grizzlies are averaging 111.3 points in their last six games, but now they must keep up with the NBA’s highest-scoring team.

Phoenix is shooting a league-best 49.6 percent from the field while averaging 110.0 points - 121.3 over the last five games.

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Saturday, Jan 2