Grizzlies top Suns without big guys

Don Wade, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- No Marc Gasol, no Zach Randolph. But would you believe plenty of Jon Leuer and Ed Davis? And a healthy dose of Kosta Koufos?
The Memphis Grizzlies didn't have their "big fellas" Tuesday night as Gasol, their All-Star center and Randolph, their go-to power forward, were out with injuries. But Davis, Leuer and Koufos combined for 58 points and 33 rebounds in a 110-91 win over the Phoenix Suns at the FedExForum.
"Obviously, Marc and Z-Bo are starters and all-stars," said Davis, who had a season-best 21 points and 12 rebounds. "We all have to take it up -- first guy to last guy on the bench."
Leuer did his part by scoring a career-high 23 points with nine rebounds and career-high three blocks. Point guard Mike Conley finished with 18 points and 14 assists. Koufos, who will be starting at center until Gasol's return from a sprained MCL several weeks down the line, scored 14 and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Memphis (9-8) opened the third quarter down eight points, but went on a 23-9 run and led 82-74 going into the fourth quarter. Davis provided 11 of the Grizzlies' 36 third-quarter points, six points coming on dunks. The Grizzlies then outscored the Suns (9-9) 28-17 in the final frame as Leuer scored 11. Memphis snapped its four-game home losing streak.
"We had a chance to kind of let go of the rope in the second quarter," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "We came out (in the second half) and we were very physical defensively. Jon Leuer did a lot of good things. He made shots. But I thought he guarded pretty well in the second half."
Forward Marcus Morris led the Suns with 18 points off the bench. Guard Goran Dragic had 16 points. The Suns entered the game as the league leader in fast-break points at 20.0 per game. They outran the Grizzlies 14-4, but Memphis did a good job taking care of the ball with only eight turnovers.
"They scored 65 (actually, 64) in the second half," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "You're not going to beat anybody when you give up (64) in a half."
The Suns had eight or more 3-pointers in nine consecutive games. That streak ended as they finished 7-for-29 (24.1 percent).
"We missed a lot of open threes," Hornacek said.
Conley's 14 assists give him 43 over his last four games -- all games without Gasol, who averages 4.3 assists. Conley made just four turnovers in that span and two of those games he was turnover-free.
Against the Suns, he seemed at ease feeding everyone as seven players scored in double-figures. But especially Davis, Koufos and Leuer, who were big parts of the Grizzlies' 56-36 advantage in the paint.
"We let Leuer and Davis get loose," said Suns forward P.J. Tucker. "They start finishing, and by the end, everybody got in on it -- making shots and feeling comfortable."
"I trust those guys," Conley said. "I want to give them a present, that dime, because they work hard to get open."
"He's our playmaker and he makes the game easier for us," said Leuer.
The Grizzlies shot 54.8 percent from the floor (46-of-84). Leuer was 10-of-13, including 1-of-2 from 3-point range; Davis was 8-of-11; Koufos was 7-for-12. Phoenix shot 42.5 percent from the floor (37-for-87).
"My biggest thing is if we bring the energy, that covers a lot of technical mistakes," Suns center Miles Plumlee said.
Joerger looks forward to Randolph and Gasol returning, but also said: "Hopefully we just keep getting better as a team and each guy kind of flourishes in the minutes he gets to play, develop his game and develops in our system. That way, when those guys come back we'll be deeper."
NOTES: Memphis PF Zach Randolph missed his second straight game Tuesday after having an ingrown toenail removed last Saturday. ... Memphis F Quincy Pondexter scored a career-high 22 points off the bench Saturday in a home loss to Brooklyn after being a DNP-CD the previous two games. He also stared down coach Dave Joerger during a personal 14-point run. "It's something that's been addressed and I'm not going to comment on it," Joerger said Tuesday. Pondexter did not play Tuesday, either... Grizzlies C Kosta Koufos is averaging 11.7 rebounds in his three starts in place of the injured Marc Gasol (MCL sprain, left knee). ... Through 17 games, Phoenix ranked fifth in the NBA with 9.3 3-point makes per game. SF P.J. Tucker ranked sixth in the league in 3-point field-goal percentage at 48.9 percent (22-for-45). ... Suns C Miles Plumlee was seventh in the NBA in blocks with 1.94 per game.

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