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Suns 86, Grizzlies 90

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- Tayshaun Prince threw a simple inbounds pass where Jerryd Bayless was supposed to be.

The ball sailed out-of-bounds for a Memphis Grizzlies turnover with 50.7 seconds left and Phoenix ahead by four points.

That play pretty much told how the Suns, who had lost five of their previous eight games, walked out of FedExForum a 96-90 winner over the Western Conference's fourth-best team Tuesday night.

The Grizzlies, starting trade acquisition Prince for the first time, looked disjointed offensively all night, especially down the stretch when Memphis (30-17) made too many unforced turnovers.

Guided by point guard Goran Dragic, who hit a key layup and added a couple of free throws in the final minutes, Phoenix looked more organized in the clutch.

Dragic finished with 17 points and four assists. Center Marcin Gortat scored a team-high 20 points for Phoenix, which shot 50.7 percent from the field.

Bayless scored 29 points off the bench for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph added 21 points and 13 rebounds, but he took just one shot in the fourth quarter. Prince had 11 points and six rebounds.

The Grizzlies held a 52-50 advantage at halftime, with both teams being led by the most unlikely of scorers.

None of Memphis' vaunted front line, including two-time All-Star forward Randolph and one-time All-Star center Marc Gasol could deal with the Suns' Gortat, who hit his first six shots and scored 17 in the opening half.

The Grizzlies countered with Bayless, who had started the previous three games but went back to the bench against the Suns when Prince got his first start. The move didn't seem to faze Bayless, who scored 14 points in the first half, often coming off screens for wide open looks.

Both teams shot better than 60 percent in the first quarter that ended in a 27-27 deadlock. The Suns opened the second period on a 10-2 run, with the Grizzlies committing three turnovers on their first three possessions.

Phoenix maintained an eight-point lead going into the half's final five minutes, but then Prince subtly took over. In the last 4:32, he scored five points, grabbed two rebounds and dealt an assist as the Grizzlies forged ahead by a bucket at the break on a Mike Conley 9-foot pull-up jumper with 3.1 seconds left.

There wasn't much separation until the closing seconds of the third. That's when Bayless drilled a 3-pointer and Prince flipped in a follow shot just before the quarter-ending buzzer for a 71-65 Memphis lead.

NOTES: Maybe Lindsey Hunter, just 2 1/2 years removed from his 17-year NBA playing career, now officially feels old. Hunter, the 42-year-old interim head coach of the Suns, faced Prince, one of his teammates on the Pistons' 2003-04 NBA championship team. "He was a pup and I was still older when came into the league," Hunter said of Prince, 32. "He always calls me 'Uncle Lindsey.' Time goes on, and now he's been in the league double-digit years. Tay is a tough competitor who never backs down. He knows how to win and he knows how to play the game. He's a calm, cool collected character, but he's very opinionated. He speaks his mind and tells you what he thinks. I think that's why he fit in so well in Detroit." ... With the acquisition of Prince and Ed Davis in last week's three-team trade with the Pistons and Raptors, and with Chris Johnson signing a second 10-day contract, the Grizzlies now have six left-handed players on their 13-man roster. Head coach Lionel Hollins is a lefty, too. ... Tuesday's game against the Suns is the second in a six-game stretch in which the Grizzlies have five home games. Only a trip to Atlanta on Wednesday night breaks up the string of home dates in FedExForum leading into the All-Star break.
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