Grizzlies-Suns Preview

The Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies are trying to avoid their longest skid of the season.

The Phoenix Suns would like to avert their longest home losing streak in almost eight years.

Rudy Gay and the Grizzlies will try to begin re-establishing their momentum by capitalizing on the struggling Suns on Saturday night.

Memphis (10-8) had a seven-game winning streak snapped with Tuesday's 97-84 loss at Portland. The Grizzlies shot 37.8 percent from the floor before turning in a worse performance two days later, making 35.7 percent from the field in a 98-91 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Our perimeter people did not shoot the ball very well," coach Lionel Hollins said.

Gay led the Grizzlies with 24 points against the Clippers, adding seven rebounds while hitting 9 of 19 shots - 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. It was an improved effort from his 11 points on 5-for-15 shooting against the Trail Blazers.

The forward leads Memphis with 18.7 points per game and is tied for third with 6.2 rebounds. He's averaging 24.4 points in his past five meetings with the Suns (6-12).

Gay could be poised for another strong performance against a Phoenix team that has lost eight of 10 while allowing opponents to average 99.0 points.

The Suns have dropped three in a row at home, and they haven't endured a longer slide there since a five-game skid from March 6-19, 2004.

Their overall losing streak reached three Friday with an ugly 109-71 loss at Portland. The Suns scored 33 first-half points, shot 37.2 percent for the game and committed 22 turnovers.

Grant Hill, who led the team with 12 points, felt the Suns gave up.

"The thing that was surprising was that I thought we kind of folded," Hill said. "We stopped competing there as soon as they came out and hit us hard."

A better performance from Steve Nash will likely be needed if Phoenix is to end its losing streaks. The All-Star point guard had five points in nearly 25 minutes Friday, missing 5 of 7 from the field while dishing out seven assists.

Nash has been solid at home, where he's averaging 14.1 points and 11.0 assists. He's scored 16.8 points per game with 11.4 assists in the last five home meetings with Memphis.

While Zach Randolph continues to recover from a bruised knee, Gay is getting ample assistance from Marc Gasol.

The Spanish center had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists Friday, and is averaging career highs of 14.9 points and 10.3 boards.

"Marc Gasol has played well all season long," Hollins said. "Since he has come back as a player, he has really stepped up his role as a leader. He's looking to be more aggressive to score. He's just coming into his own of becoming a very good player."

Gasol managed just 17 total points in the last two meetings with Phoenix after scoring 26 on 12 of 13 from the field in a 123-118 double-overtime loss there Nov. 5, 2010.

Phoenix is 25-6 all-time at home against the Grizzlies, but has dropped two of the last three.

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