MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 1 (Ticker) --
The Memphis Grizzlies should
have asked the Phoenix Suns not to show up.
After banishing Bonzi Wells
, the Grizzlies got off to a terrible
start in a 123-115 loss to the Suns, who completed their first
postseason series sweep in 10 years with their usual unstoppable
NBA TV highlights from |
The eighth-seeded Grizzlies were totally overmatched as they
fell to 0-8 all-time in the postseason. They surrendered an
average of 113.8 points and were toyed with by the Suns, who
earned themselves a week off.
"They're on a whole other level chemistry-wise. They're all on
the same page and more focused than they were during the regular
season," Grizzlies guard Earl Watson
"We've made it to the playoffs two years in a row and we've yet
to win a game. But we'll get there," Grizzlies coach MikeFratello
said. "We will grow and build."
Before the game, the Grizzlies announced that Wells had missed
the pregame shootaround and would not come to the FedEx Forum
for the game "by mutual agreement."
"We decided that it was in the best interest of both parties
that he did not dress for this game," said Fratello, who
declined to elaborate.
Although Wells had not played much in the series, the
circumstance was a distraction. Grizzlies guard Jason Williams
and forward Stromile Swift
were among a handful of teammates who
wore Wells' No. 6 wristband in support.
"It's a difficult situation with Bonzi and the team," Swift
said. "It's hard playing all year with a guy and then all of
sudden he's not playing. He's not out there. So we just wanted
to show a little support to keep him up.
"I don't think (the benching) was fair, but it is what it is.
Management calls the shots and you've got to do what they say.
Me personally, I don't think it was fair. I wish he could have
been here and played, trying to help us get a win."
After the game, Williams had to be restrained in the locker room
following a confrontation with a Commercial Appeal columnist in
which the player took the writer's pen and told teammates not
to answer his questions.
"I'm telling you right now, don't do it," Williams told teammate
. "You can answer TNT all you want."
The Suns pounced on a demoralized team, racing to a 39-20 lead
after one quarter. Led by Joe Johnson
, they made 12-of-18 shots,
including 6-of-8 3-pointers.
"Great players make great shots, and those guys are a cohesive
unit," said Grizzlies forward Dahntay Jones
, who scored 14
points. "They're the best team in the league right now. They
knock down shots that you can't do anything about."
Memphis fought back as Phoenix got lazy and pulled into a 64-64
tie early in the third quarter. The Suns immediately responded
with five straight points, widening the lead to 91-82 entering
the final period and held off the Grizzlies thereafter.
"It was a tough game for us tonight," Johnson said. "Memphis is
an NBA team and we knew that they weren't going to lay down
tonight. We made a run and then they would match it, but we
were just too much in the end for them."
Johnson scored 25 points to lead six players in double figures
for the Suns, who completed their first four-game sweep in
franchise history and await the winner of the Dallas-Houston
series. Phoenix swept a three-game set from Portland in the
first round in 1995.
"It feels good," said Suns center Amaré Stoudemire
, who had 18
points and seven rebounds. "This is the first time that I've
ever been on a team that swept another team. But like I said, it
doesn't matter who we play in the next round, we're going to be
ready for them."
had 24 points and nine assists and Shawn Marion
23 and 11 rebounds as Phoenix shot a blistering 60 percent
(38-of-63), including 11-of-24 from the arc, and drained
36-of-49 free throws.
Memphis connected on 12-of-16 from the line, finishing the
series with 68 free throws to Phoenix's 128.
"Here's the key - we don't foul. We practice that," Suns coach
said. "Other teams get into that, but we have the
least amount of fouls in the league."
scored 28 points and Williams added 20 and eight
assists for the Grizzlies, who shot 50 percent (45-of-89).
Early in the fourth quarter, Memphis closed to 96-89 on a dunk
by Stromile Swift - who was called for a technical foul for
hanging on the rim.
On Phoenix's next possession, Marion made a layup while being
shoved by Jones, who was called for a flagrant foul. Marion
made 1-of-2 free throws and Stoudemire scored, completing a
five-point possession for a 102-89 lead with 9:05 to play.
A jumper by Williams made it 108-102 with 4:38 remaining. Gasol
failed to box out on a missed free throw which led to another
foul shot for Quentin Richardson
Williams made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 110-105 and
again Gasol missed his assignment as Marion snuck inside for a
layup that triggered a clinching 8-0 run.