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Cloudy Suns lose to Growling Grizzlies, 120-109

With both teams missing key players, the Grizzlies used home court advantage to come out on top over the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Mamma always said there’d be days like this.

As the Suns lose a game they didn’t even sniff a lead after the first quarter, losing 120-109 to Memphis, we get to see what the next two+ months might entail for our Suns franchise.

Sure, we see tonight that rookie Josh Jackson notched his 4th 20-point game of his career, plus 8 rebounds and a block.

And sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis put up a very nice looking 13 points, 7 assists and 5 steals.

But as Jared Dudley reminded us in exit interviews last April, it’s an NBA game. Each team is going to get 100+ points on an average night. Someone has to get those points, assists and rebounds. And when Ulis and Jackson were two of the only scorers on the floor for the Suns, they’re going to put something into the box score.

Devin Booker did not play (hip). Neither did Marquese Chriss (hip, ankle) or Tyson Chandler (old). That’s a lot of the Suns points, assists and rebounds right there.

So the Suns had to rely on a bunch of guys who can’t carry a team like Booker can.

T.J. Warren got his points (24 points, 7 rebounds) but no more or less than he’d get on any team. Tony Buckets gets the same buckets, whoever is around him. Which is good and bad.

Alex Len had his usual (12 points, 8 rebounds) when given 20+ minutes, but he wasn’t any kind of difference maker either.

And then there’s Dragan Bender. Maybe Jared was wrong. Maybe not EVERYONE can fill up a box score. The Suns scored 109 points and played only 10 guys. That’s an average of 10.9 points per player who touched the floor.

Yet, last year’s #4 overall pick only took 2 shots, missed both of them, and committed as many turnovers as he had rebounds and assists combined — 3 — in his 20 minutes of court time.

Maybe Bender is hitting that rookie wall. He’s never played this many minutes in his life, or this many games. And certainly hasn’t ever taken this much of a beating fighting off bigger players night after night. So maybe it’s the wall he’s crumpled at the bottom of. Let’s hope he climbs back out.

On a closing note, it’s nice to see Jared Dudley get some run, thanks to all the injuries. Dudley tied his season high with 13 points, and dished 3 assists while grabbing 2 rebounds. On a night like this, that’s not bad.

Next up: Mavericks, at home on Wednesday night.

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