Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Phoenix Suns
When: 7:00 PM CST
Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Az
Records: Memphis (20-10), Phoenix (12-22)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis failed to close out another game at home, falling to the Portland Trailblazers 84-82 scoring only 12 points in the final period. The Grizzlies appeared to have the game in control holding the Blazers to only 14 fourth quarter points but the 4th quarter offensive woes continued to plague the team. Mo Speights started in place of Zach Randolph, out with flu symptoms, and led the team in scoring and rebounding but the team couldn’t muster any consistent offense from the remaining starters down the stretch. The loss was the Grizzlies 4th at home this season leaving the team 8-8 since their 12-2 start of the season.
Phoenix has the second worst record in the Western Conference at 12-22. The Suns weaknesses stem from a porous defense (26th in the league and weak rebounding (26th as well) but do have a winning record at home (10-8). Losers in 7 of their last 8 games, the Suns will be fighting to end the 3 game home-stand with a winning record after defeating Philly in their first game of the new year. Phoenix has adjusted the starting lineup since their last game against Memphis adding P J Tucker and Luis Scola to the front line.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Goran Dragic
Zach Randolph wasn’t the only Grizz fighting flu-like symptoms Friday night as Mike Conley was battling weakness from his own battle. Conley was forced into action with the risk of no Jerryd Bayless after rolling his left ankle in Boston. Defensively Conley played well but was ineffective offensively. Goran Dragic leads to Suns in scoring this season (14.5 PPG) and have been more effective against the Grizzlies shooting 52% from the field.
Tony Allen vs Jared Dudley
Jared Dudley has been floating back and forth between SF and SG this season as Phoenix searches for some combination that produces consistent wins. Dudley has been effective shooting the ball hitting 49.2% of his field goal attempts and 38.5% of his threes but struggled defensively as a SF. Tony Allen played a season high 40 minutes against Portland but was unable to contain Wesley Mathews who finished with 21 points. Allen’s minutes are being extended while Quincy Pondexter recovers from a sprained MCL. Allen rarely has back to back weak defensive efforts.
Rudy Gay vs P J Tucker
Rudy Gay was not 100% mentally against Portland after the death of the grand-mother who raised him as a boy. That lack of mental focus showed itself early and late in the game. Gay started slowly but pulled it together to score 17 first half points. In the second half Rudy was lost against shooting 1-8 and missing a potential game tying shot at the buzzer. Tucker is not an impressive offensive player but has a mean defensive strength. Tucker gives up too much size in this matchup however.
Zach Randolph vs Luis Scola
Scola has bounced around this season with Phoenix never knowing how many minutes he’ll get which is strange considering he is the only respected PF on the team. A skillful left block scorer, Scola has decent range but can be turnover prone and won’t block any shots. Randolph had a monster game in the first outing against Phoenix but has been fighting flu like symptoms and it is not known if he will play. Assuming Z-Bo is back and healthy he has a distinct advantage over anyone the Suns put on him in this game.
Marc Gasol vs Marcin Gortat
Gortat has been a disappointing performer all season for the Suns averaging only 11.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG, both way down from last season. Gortat may be in the process of changing that getting a double-double in each of the last three games including 18 pts and 11 boards against a tall and physical Utah team in his last outing. Gasol started the season being discussed among the best bigs in the league but has fallen off of late including a tepid 12 pts and 6 boards game against the Blazers. Gasol is more talented but has a tendency to defer too often to others. He will need to be aggressive early and often to keep Gortat’s shot-blocking skills at bay. Gortat is more effective when leaving his man to block other’s shots.
Memphis’ bench was hurt by the loss of Quincy Pondexter. Wayne Ellington has replaced QPon as the deep threat and is hitting shots well when he manages to get them off. Mo Speights and Darrell Arthur are the primary big men off the bench and both have been contributing at different times. Jerryd Bayless played thru a rolled ankle but was mostly ineffective against the Blazers. Shannon Brown has not responded well to his new bench role, going scoreless in 2 of the 3 games. He isn’t likely to regain his starting role against Memphis whom he has struggled against this season. Markieff Morris and Jermaine O’Neal are the usual bigs off the bench with Michael Beasley seemingly out of the rotation at the present time.
Valley of the Suns