Suns 137, Grizzlies 122
The Suns—the league’s highest-scoring team—outran the Grizzlies in the second half as Amare Stoudemire scored a season-high 42 points to lead Phoenix to a 137-122 victory over Memphis on Monday night.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Suns guard Steve Nash said of the style. “If you want to play uptempo and take quick shots, you’ve also got to play with a game plan. You have to have a calculated effort at running and gunning and not just heaving the ball up.”
Despite Memphis staying close through the first half, the Suns’ experience in the uptempo style finally paid dividends as the Grizzlies tired down the stretch. It was the 10th straight win for Phoenix, which shot 56 percent.
“We wanted to keep running,” Stoudemire said. “Keep the tempo up. We wanted to outrun guys, and that’s what we did.”
Memphis lost its third straight and has dropped five of its last six.
“We can make you pay,” Nash said. “If they want to collapse on Amare, we’ve got lots of shooters. If they want to stay with the shooters, Amare can dominate.”
The run-and-gun style from both teams contributed to a combined 148 points in the first half, and both shooting above 58 percent from the field in the first two quarters. The Suns led 76-72 at the break.
Memphis certainly played more inspired than its previous game Saturday night. The Grizzlies’ 72 points were more than they scored the entire game in that 111-66 loss at Chicago.
But despite more enthusiasm, Memphis still hasn’t learned to combine defense with its new offense. Memphis coach Tony Barone put his head in his hands, grimaced, even screamed at Gasol about defense.
“Our defense needs to be somehow shored up,” Barone said. “It isn’t good enough to just think you can run. If you’re going to play this style of basketball you have to play defense. You have to get back and contest shooters.”
Phoenix pulled away in the third period, as Stoudemire scored 16 of his points. That included 14 of the Suns’ first 16 points in the half to build the first double-digit lead.
Meanwhile, Memphis was contributing to the Suns’ rally with 10 turnovers in the period.
“(Turnovers) come from fatigue,” said Memphis guard Chucky Atkins, who finished with 15 points. “Trying to play at such a fast pace, you come out and get a little tired in the second half. Being tired sometimes leads to turnovers.”
And that was about the time, Phoenix displayed the difference in a style played for several years rather than several weeks.
“We were in great condition down the stretch,” said Stoudemire, whose 42 points matched the season-high for a Suns’ player. “We caught our second wind in the third and fourth quarters and that helped a lot. It’s something we do all year long and have for three or four years.”
After the 45-point loss at Chicago, Barone started veteran G Eddie Jones. “We had to do something after the last game,” Barone said. Jones scored eight points in 19 minutes. … The game was part of the Grizzlies’ fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo and former Spurs star David Robinson were honored with the second annual Sports Legacy Awards as part of the day’s ceremonies. Mutombo was unable to attend because of the Rockets game with Dallas on Tuesday. … Suns -/F Kurt Thomas left the game in the first half with a hyperextended left elbow and did not return. … The 76 first-half points for Phoenix was its biggest output in any half this season.