Dragic's Career Night Not Enough Against Memphis

Barry Gossage/NBAE

The Suns had hoped to kick off a new year with a new outcome against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.

Instead the regular season rematch seemed all too 2013. Phoenix was outrebounded by 19, which was also the number of offensive rebounds given up to Memphis. Combined with a game-time scratch of Eric Bledsoe (strained knee), the Suns were unable to complete their comeback bid and fell 99-91.

Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek admitted the team’s offense wasn’t its usual lethal self without its second playmaker, but did not pointed to a different absence – the team’s presence on the boards – as the turning point of the game.

“It’s just a fact that we got outhustled. Outhustled and out-muscled,” Hornacek said. “There were a lot of loose balls we didn’t get. We got destroyed on the boards. We gave up 19 offensive rebounds. Eric Bledsoe’s a point guard, so how’d they get 19 offensive rebounds?”

The answer lay with the same culprits from last month. Ed Davis came off the bench for 16 poins and 11 rebounds for Memphis. He and former University of Arizona standout Jerryd Bayless (17 points) outscored the Suns’ bench (15 points) by themselves.

Phoenix still nearly stole the game thanks to career-high 33 points from Goran Dragic. The Slovenian guard hit 13-of-22 from the field to go along with seven assists and three steals.

Dragic sparked the Suns to a 32-point third quarter, scoring 15 by himself in the period while helping engineer a 16-0 Phoenix run. Channing Frye (14 points) hit a pair of three-pointers in that stretch and added a driving one-handed slam. Three more Dragic free throws gave Phoenix an eight-point lead after they trailed by as many as 14.

Memphis rallied behind Bayless, who scored 11 in the fourth quarter. The loss dropped Phoenix to 19-12 on the season.

Gerald Green, who finished with nine points, four steals and three assists filling in for Bledsoe, admitted the team felt they had let a winnable game slip away at home.

“Memphis is a good team, but we think that we’re a better team than them,” Green said. “I think everyone in the locker room feels that way. I think that’s why we’re more disappointed because of this loss.”