Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/13/12
PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns made only one basket in the final four minutes of Wednesday's game, but it was enough to snap their longest losing streak in eight years. Goran Dragic, who missed a layup late against Dallas to prolong what became a seven-game losing streak, atoned with a left-handed layup around Grizzlies center Marc Gasol with five-tenths of a second left and the Suns gained revenge for an overtime loss in Memphis eight days ago by grinding out an 82-80 win. "The play was pick-and-roll for me. I tried to pass first and then I went with the pump fake and I had the open easy shot," said Dragic, who missed Sunday's loss to Orlando with the flu and was still fighting it on Wednesday. "Last time I missed the easy layup against Dallas (in a 97-94 loss on Dec. 6) and this time I told myself 'You have to make this one.' " Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown had 15 points each for the Suns, who had dropped seven consecutive games dating to a Nov. 27 win at Cleveland. It was the longest losing streak for Phoenix since February of 2004. The win allowed Phoenix (8-15) to remain with the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs as the only NBA teams without an eight-game losing streak over the past eight years. Jermaine O'Neal had a chance to win the game in Memphis in regulation, but missed a buzzer-beater that allowed the game -- and the streak -- to go on. "We lost every possible way you could during this thing -- close games, blow outs, good teams, bad teams, different ways, different lineups ... sometimes you forget how to win," said Dudley who had an open 20-footer rattle out with 37.6 seconds left that could have broken the 80-80 tie. "For us to go out there and beat one of the best teams in the West, if not the NBA, especially the way we lost to them last time; it shows something about our character." Rudy Gay had 21 points to lead Memphis (14-5). His turnaround 16-footer tied the game at 80 with 46.8 seconds left. After Dudley's miss, Gay had a chance to put the Grizzlies ahead but his jumper as the shot clock expired rattled out and the Suns had the ball and the last chance with 7.7 seconds left. Memphis, who scored 27 points in the first quarter and led by as many as 11 in the second, scored 34 points in the second half. "Once they got back into the game they felt good about themselves and it was a battle the rest of the way," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "We battled, we just couldn't score. We couldn't make shots and we gave up 19 offensive rebounds." Zach Randolph, who had 38 points and 22 rebounds against the Suns eight days ago, finished with 18 points and 10 boards Wednesday but was very quiet after scoring 10 of the Grizzlies' first 19 points. "We are not executing, not moving the ball," Randolph said. "We're not getting into our plays and not getting back to play defense these last two games. That's our game." The Suns took their biggest lead of the night at 80-76 on Marcin Gortat's basket with 4:02 left, but Phoenix grinded its way home with several missed chances. Gay's reverse dunk with 3:49 left pulled Memphis within two, and his jumper got the Grizzlies even, setting up Dragic's heroics. "We wanted to go high screen and roll and keep the floor open and use as much of the clock as we could," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said of the game-winning basket. "Goran just made a great play. "I thought we just kind of gutted it out. We made a couple of plays down the stretch and that has kinda been the difference in four or five of the games (during the losing streak). It's been one possession or one rebound that has cost us a loss. It was just good to get the monkey off our back." The Phoenix offense struggled in the first quarter (8-for-22 from the field), and reserve Michael Beasley missed 9 of 11 shots in a 10-minute stretch before sitting for the rest of the game. Gentry tightened his rotation in the second half, going with eight players most of the way. NOTES: The struggling Suns made another change in the starting lineup, with veteran Luis Scola starting over Markieff Morris to draw the initial defensive assignment on Randolph. "That's just coach's instinct," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "I don't want to see Morris get two quick fouls. I want to be able to use him in the first and second quarters." ... Randolph's 30-20 game in Memphis was just the fourth by a Suns opponent in Phoenix franchise history, joining efforts by a trio of Hall of Famers -- Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier. ... The Suns welcomed back P.J. Tucker, who missed two games with a knee sprain. He played 10 scoreless minutes. ... The Grizzlies have won just six of 34 games in Phoenix.
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