I’m running back the good vs. bad method for tonight’s recap, because I still think it’s the best way to highlight the beats of a Suns game, which might still be the most arrhythmic in the league.
The Suns beat the Grizzlies, 97-95, in a surprisingly entertaining game.
Good: The Suns just can’t be stopped rebounding on the offensive glass. They have a chance at just about every loose ball off a miss, and find their way into some much-needed easy points as a result. Greg Monroe had a put-back after three tries late in the first quarter, and T.J. Warren continued his contributions in this area as well. The team rebounded six of their 15 misses in the first quarter.
Bad: No one seemed particularly interested in defending the rim. That’s the problem you run into when Greg Monroe is playing heavy minutes, particularly against a team that passes as well as Memphis. The Grizzlies shot 9-11 at the rim in the first quarter.
Bad: It’s difficult for most of the roster to get to the rim and finish. We all know Josh Jackson has struggled in this regard, tossing up errant shots hard off the backboard, but tonight we watched Danuel House and Dragan Bender miss contested layups as well. Outside of Warren, Devin Booker and Mike James, there isn’t a Suns for whom driving is a strength.
Good: It was one of the team’s better passing games of the season, with 16 assists in the first half. Memphis’ defense hasn’t been dominant as in years past, but guys like Andrew Harrison and Marc Gasol are still smart and physical defenders. The Suns beat them for 60 points by penetrating into the paint and finding open players.
Good: T.J. Warren had his first awesome game in a while scoring the ball. He scored 17 in the first half and continued to shoot well on his typical diet of tough shots through the second half. He was the primary reason the Suns controlled the game.
Bad: The third quarter -- all of it. The Suns were outscored 30-19 and lost their lead. One of the Grizzlies’ two-way players, Kobi Simmons was a plus-five in five minutes, and tipped two sloppy Suns passes that led to Memphis baskets. No one could buy a shot, with Bender missing two threes and Canaan failing at the rim. It was bad.
Good: Josh Jackson shot well tonight! He made a contested three from the right wing midway through the fourth quarter that gave the Suns a lead after another in the first quarter. His free-throw shooting was a problem again, but it was another positive step for Jackson after a solid performance in Los Angeles.
Good: Dragan Bender played 32 minutes despite shooting 1-7 from the field. He grabbed five rebounds and played terrific defense on Tyreke Evans down the stretch after switching onto him in the pick-and-roll. He missed the potential game-winning three at the top of the key with 30 seconds left, but hey, offensive rebounding saved the Suns again.