The Memphis Grizzlies used the Phoenix Suns to get fat and happy, making 15 of their first 24 three-point attempts and going up by 23 points early in the 4th quarter.
Mike Conley made 12 of 16 shots (7 of 9 on threes) for 38 points, plus 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Zach Randolph had 18 points off the bench, including a pair of threes and a pair of dunks. Marc Gasol manned the paint and poured in 18 of his own.
For the Suns, it just wasn’t a good night. Marquese Chriss managed to stay out of foul trouble and scored a career-high 20 points to go with 5 rebounds, a block and a steal. Chriss really showed a lot of skills offensively and a lot of need to improve defensively.
It was so bad that P.J. Tucker got himself thrown out of the game early in the 4th quarter on a pair of techs for arguing a call. I think he got a good deal, there.
A game after scoring 41, Eric Bledsoe really struggled. He finished with only 14 points (3 of 11 shooting) and 4 assists against 6 turnovers.
The game started poorly for the Suns, who fell quickly into a 7-2 hole before Watson’s first timeout call. The Grizzlies scored easily on their first three possessions, using ball movement, pick-and-roll and... well, that’s all they needed.
The Suns just didn’t seem ready for the Grizzlies intensity, the only thing keeping the Suns in play was Chandler Parsons being unable to finish drives to the rim.
Marquese Chriss showed off his range of physical talents, making a high-flying block, a corner three and offensive rebound/floater putback are plays that show real talent. Just needs to harness it into a really good ball player.
The Suns clawed back into the game after that, pulling within one a couple of times but the Grizzlies held onto the lead.
The Suns just couldn’t get the lead, and the Grizzlies effectively baited the Suns youngest players into dumb plays to keep the lead after one quarter, 31-28.
The Grizzlies showed the whole game how to play effective defense, while the Suns showed the opposite. Every Suns shot was contested, no matter how many picks or pin downs were set to get a guy open. The Grizzlies rotated well. On the other end, the Suns did not.
Finally, the Grizzlies made three straight threes to open up a 10-point lead, something that seemed inevitable as the game went along. The Suns second unit just wasn’t getting it done, led by Brandon Knight and Tyler Ulis.
If the Suns are going to win this game, they will have to play tighter and more consistently make the right rotations.
The Suns pulled back into the game with the starting unit, along with P.J. Tucker in T.J. Warren’s place. The Suns only real advantage appeared to be Tucker taking Chandler Parsons off the dribble.
The Suns pulled back to 46-43, but then Conley and Gasol took over enough to push the lead back up to 10 and then extend it to 12 on a Chriss goal tend on Allen’s drive to the rim.
The Suns just couldn’t keep up with the Grizzlies fight, and by halftime were still down by 11 points, 59-48.
Mike Conley’s HALFTIME line was 23 points and 5 assists. FIRE.
P.J. Tucker led the Suns in scoring in the first half with 11 points on 5/6 shooting. Let that sink in. That’s how tough the Grizzlies defense is - they let the 5th man score and that’s it. Good on P.J. for getting the buckets.
Let’s see if the Suns can start the second half with more fire than they started the game.
Unfortunately, the Grizzlies didn’t even give them a chance. It was the Grizzlies that came out focused, buoyed by JaMichael Green’s pair of corner threes - one in transition, and one on a broken play where Marquese Chriss somehow ended up on his butt while Green grabbed the loose ball and backed into the corner for the three.
Quickly, the Grizzlies got up by 20 and the game appeared effectively over.
The Suns tried to stay in it, but just didn’t have “it” on this night. They couldn’t finish hustle plays, getting outworked by Memphis even in transition opportunities.
Not sure what to even post about the second half, except that the Grizzlies got so comfortable they started clowning around with Suns players like a big brother (mostly instigated by Z-Bo). Not a good game for the Suns here.
Mike Conley, still out there with the Grizzlies up 23, had 33 points on 11-13 shooting (6-7 on threes). Z-Bo had 2 threes and 2 dunks.
The Grizzlies as a team made 15 of 24 threes as of the 8:57 mark left in the 4th quarter.