There is a specific formula for a Suns victory. Defense, rebounding, bench play, and Jason Richardson. In Suns wins, J-Rich averages over 17 points per game. When they lose, he scores 10. Tonight, Rich may have played one of his best all around games this season if not his whole career as a Sun:
35 minutes, 27 points (12-17 shooting), 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 turnover
But tonight wasn't only about Richardson. The Suns win when they can achieve their special formula. And perhaps it's nothing scientific, it's just a team playing as good as they can. Tonight the entire Suns team put it together for a 109-95 victory over the Grizzlies in Memphis.
Numbers often fail to capture the performance of a team, but tonight, the numbers indeed illustrate how good the Suns played:
- Grant Hill: 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
- Amare Stoudemire: 21 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks
- Robin Lopez: 18 points, 10 rebounds
- Steve Nash: 16 assists
- Louis Amundson: 6 points, 6 rebounds
- Jared Dudley: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
- Goran Dragic: 11 points, 2 assists
The Suns led the Grizzlies in nearly every statistical category:
Rebounds: Suns 50, Griz 46
Field Goal %: Suns 50%, Grizz 35%
Blocks: Suns 9, Grizz 3
Assists: Suns 26, Grizz 17
Steals and turnovers were nearly even. The Suns were also aided by some putrid Memphis free throw shooting. The Grizzlies shot 23-37, 62%
The Suns got off to a good start as Steve Nash and Robin Lopez played a nice two man game as Lopez scored two quick hoops off of Nash assists. If Nash was ailing, it wasn't obvious as he dished out 5 assists in the opening quarter. A sweet Goran Dragic dunk with 2 seconds left would have capped a good all around quarter. Unfortunately Marcus Williams busted a 66 footer at the buzzer to give the Grizz a 3-point lead at the end of the first.
In the second, the Suns gained some separation with an excellent bench effort that took a 3-point deficit and turned it into a 9 point lead as Goran Dragic dropped in 7 points to compliment Robin Lopez's 8. The Suns went to the locker room with an 8 point lead feeling good.
In the third, the Suns extended the lead to 21. Of course, the Suns usually lose 21 point leads like sorority girls lose their ...um, well, I should stop right there....Steve Nash aand Alvin Gentry were both hit with technical fouls and Memphis ended the quarter on an 8-0 run.
In the fourth, Memphis shaved the lead down to 10 but never got closer as the Suns closed out the game with the help of 8 fourth quarter points from Amare Stoudemire.
The Suns wanted this game. As bad as Memphis has been playing and as bad as they looked tonight, you must give credit to the Suns defensive effort. They were scrapping on the floor for loose balls, contesting shots, busting the boards, and overall looking like a team playing with some urgency. Perhaps to prove a point to Steve Kerr that they can win, and do not want to level this team just yet.
- Nash to Lopez seems like an organic duo. The two are on the same page and offer the Suns another potent inside threat. Amare got off to a slow start, didn't see many touches. I couldn't help but think of a future when Nash and Lopez team together like Nash and STAT used to. That time could be nigh. Or not.
- Jason Richardson was everywhere tonight. the break must have done him some good. He was bouncing around, hitting threes, scoring in the paint, defending, rebounding. I know it's a master of the obvious statement, but the Suns really are a better team when Rich has his legs and plays relaxed, confident basketball.
- Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson battled like crazy with the big boys. Dudley's quick hands yielded two excellent, timely steals. Remember when the Suns got 6 tries at the hoop in the 4th, with Lou picking up 4 rebounds and two tips before making a layup? Dedication, man. Resign him, give him a raise, too. Let him be our Rambis for the next 5 or so years.
"We did a good job of disrupting their offense by taking the initial pass away, and we did a really good job on their duck-ins, and that's how they can really hurt you."
"I need to do that a lot more. Sometimes I'm my own toughest critic and get down on myself. It's a game I've been playing all my life, and I love it, so I just got to go out there and have fun."
RANDOM BULLET POINTS
- The Suns have won 6 of their last 7 games
- The Suns have won 5 straight road games.
- The Suns held the trio of Gasol, Mayo, and Conley to 12-35 shooting
- Marc Gasol went 3-11 from the free throw line
- The Suns bench outscored the Grizzlies bench 29-20 and out rebounded them 16-15
- The Suns outscored the Grizzlies in the paint 58-32