Grizzlies use defense to hold off Suns

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHOENIX - With their 12-point lead suddenly cut in half early in the fourth quarter, the Memphis Grizzlies committed turnovers on five consecutive possessions, opening the door for the Phoenix Suns.
But the Grizzlies held the struggling, offensively challenged Suns without a single point during the sequence as Phoenix missed five shots and committed two turnovers of their own.
The Grizzlies righted the ship down the stretch to grind out a 92-81 win Sunday at US Airways Center.
Zach Randolph had 21 points and Rudy Gay added 20 as the Grizzlies avenged a two-point loss in Phoenix last month and denied the Suns their 2,000th win in franchise history.
"We have to get better in the second half, period, but we got stops and everyone chipped in when we needed it," said Randolph, who leads the NBA in double-doubles with 22 but had only eight boards Sunday, coming up shy of his third double-double in three meetings with the Suns. "We'll get better; we just have to keep pushing."
Marc Gasol notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis (21-10), which held the slumping Suns to 39 percent shooting and piled up 19 fastbreak points to just one for Phoenix.
P.J. Tucker led the Suns in scoring with a career-high 17 points and was one of only two Suns (Jermaine O'Neal was the other) to hit at least half of his shots in the game. Marcin Gortat added 12 points for Phoenix, which has lost eight of its last nine games and 16 of the last 20.
"Even when we were getting stops we struggled to score. We have to find a way to get the mixture together," said Tucker, who set a career high for points for the third time this year. "We were right there as always, but we just couldn't finish it out."
The Suns embark on a four-game Eastern road trip beginning Tuesday in Milwaukee, and they are stuck on 1,999 franchise wins.
They are 5-21 when allowing an opponent to score at least 90 points. And after scoring just 49 in the final three quarters of Friday's 87-80 home loss to Utah, they weren't any better against the Grizzlies.
"We really could never get anything going," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "We got bogged down offensively and struggled to make shots. We were partly responsible, but they did a great job defensively also."
Phoenix top four scorers -- Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley - were a combined 11-for-33 from the floor and 0-for-5 from three-point range. Dudley didn't play in the fourth quarter.
"If their main guys get stopped, we get a win," Gay said. "Those guys don't score, most times they lose. It feels good to get this one out of the way. We have another one tomorrow (at Sacramento) so we had to take care of business here."
NOTES: The Grizzlies had their struggles with the Suns in the first two meetings this season, winning in overtime in Memphis (Dec. 4) and losing by two in Phoenix on Dec. 20. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said teams like the Suns that can play small lineups continue to give his team trouble. ... Randolph missed Friday's loss in Portland with flu-like symptoms but missing a game against Phoenix would have been difficult, because he's had big games against the Suns, including a 38-point, 22-rebound effort on Dec. 4. ... The Suns came into the game 28-6 all-time against the Grizzlies at home. That winning percentage (.824) was the best against any team in the league. ... Gortat came into the game with three straight double-double efforts and four in the last five, but he had just eight rebounds to go along with 12 points on Sunday. ... Phoenix now has four games in five nights on the road with stops in Milwaukee, Boston, Brooklyn and Chicago before returning home to face Oklahoma City on Jan. 14.

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