Suns-Grizzlies Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 03, 2012
Blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to their division rivals, the Memphis Grizzlies missed out on a chance to make an early statement. The Grizzlies have an opportunity to bounce back on Tuesday night when they host the Phoenix Suns, who will try to avoid a fourth straight defeat. While the Spurs' Big Three were refreshed following two days off that ultimately cost the team a $250,000 fine, the Grizzlies were playing the second half of a back-to-back on Saturday night. Memphis (12-3) led 76-62 with 9:41 to play, but couldn't hold on in a 99-95 overtime loss at two-time Southwest Division champ San Antonio. "We don't use any excuses here," said guard Mike Conley, who finished with 18 points and 12 assists. "We felt like we had a chance to win the game regardless of back-to-back or resting." The Grizzlies, though, appear to be in a better position against the Suns (7-11). Since the season opener, they're 4-0 with at least two days rest. The extra time could benefit big man Zach Randolph, who has shot 8 of 29 from the field in his last two games. He's averaging 18.0 points with a 51.7 field-goal percentage and 12.3 rebounds with at least two days rest. After posting double-doubles in his first 11 games of the season, Randolph has just two in his last four following a 17-point, 15-rebound effort against the Spurs. Rudy Gay finished with 15 and 10, respectively, for his first double-double of the season. Gay played a major role in the team's only win over Phoenix in 2011-12, scoring 32 points in a 104-93 victory on April 11. He averaged 23.0 points in the three meetings last season. Starting guard Tony Allen, who missed the final game against Phoenix last season because of a facial laceration, is questionable with a groin injury. The Grizzlies are tied with Miami for the best record in the NBA, but they fell to 5-3 against Western Conference opponents. Still, Memphis will try to continue its franchise-best 8-1 start at home against a Suns team that is 2-8 on the road. Phoenix is 1-4 heading into the finale of its six-game road trip and has lost three in a row following a 106-99 defeat at New York on Sunday. Goran Dragic, the team's leading scorer at 15.6 points entering the contest, finished with a season-low nine against the Knicks. Marcin Gortat finished with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who have trailed by double digits in 14 of their 18 games. "When you get down 15, 20 points, you kind of need a perfect storm to come back," said forward Michael Beasley, who had nine points. "I feel like we're relying on that perfect storm in too many of our games." Gortat was one of the biggest reasons Phoenix took two of three from the Grizzlies last season, averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. Jared Dudley, now a bench player for the Suns, totaled 39 points in the two victories over Memphis. The Suns, though, will have to find a way to improve defensively. They've allowed a league-worst 102.7 points per game, including 108.0 during their three-game losing streak. They might have to do it without forward Jermaine O'Neal, the team's second-leading shot blocker. O'Neal, who averages 1.7 blocks, could be out for a second straight game due to a right quadriceps strain.
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