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12-23

Grizzlies-Suns Preview

AP - Sports

Wins in Phoenix have been hard to come by for the Memphis Grizzlies, and they could find themselves in an even bigger hole if Zach Randolph can't play.

The Grizzlies are hoping to have Randolph available as they try to avoid a 12th loss in 14 road meetings with the scuffling Suns on Sunday night.

Averaging 16.7 points and 12.3 rebounds to rank second in the league, Randolph was scratched prior to Friday's 86-84 loss to Portland due to flu-like symptoms. Marreese Speights - starting in place of Randolph - posted season highs of 22 points and 13 boards for Memphis (20-10), which suffered its fourth defeat in six games despite outscoring the Trail Blazers 46-28 in the paint.

Rudy Gay added 19 points and nine rebounds while Marc Gasol scored 12 to go along with a franchise best-tying eight blocks.

"We went to Marc and we went to Rudy down in the post, but obviously Z-Bo is the guy that we rely on in the post down the stretch," said coach Lionel Hollins, whose team was limited to a season-worst 12 points in the fourth quarter. "Anybody who loses one of their best players is going to feel it, and we felt it at a crucial part of the game."

Randolph traveled with the team to Phoenix (12-22) but his status for Sunday is unknown. The former All-Star leads the NBA with 22 double-doubles, two of which came against the Suns.

He proved nearly unstoppable with season highs of 38 points and 22 boards in a 108-98 overtime victory Dec. 4, then compiled 18 and 10 during a heartbreaking 82-80 road loss Dec. 12. The Grizzlies are 6-28 all-time in Phoenix, though their last three losses there have come by a combined 11 points.

Phoenix went on to win its next three games after its last meeting with Memphis but has since dropped seven of eight while averaging just 92.0 points.

Those offensive struggles were on full display Friday in an 87-80 loss to Utah, which limited the Suns to a season-low nine points on 4-of-19 shooting (21.1 percent) in the second quarter. Phoenix also managed just 40 points in the second half.

"We have to do a better job of getting ourselves in position and getting ourselves set so that we can run our offense and execute it to the point that we can get good shots," coach Alvin Gentry said.

In addition to getting outscored 60-28 in the paint, the Suns turned the ball over a season-high 21 times and dropped to 1-9 when committing 16 or more.

"Well obviously, the biggest problem was turnovers," said Marcin Gortat, who had 18 points and 11 boards. "Second thing, we are not helping each other on all different screens and rolls. ... Basically, it is just all about competing and playing hard right now. And quite honestly we are not doing it."

The Suns are 5-20 when giving up more than 90 points but 7-2 when holding teams to that mark or lower. The Grizzlies have been limited to an average of 87.7 points in their last six.

Goran Dragic, who scored the game-winning bucket versus Memphis with 0.5 seconds remaining Dec. 12, is averaging 18.5 points on 51.7 percent shooting in two games in 2013.

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