Newsroom Notes: Suns Edge Grizzlies in Thriller
Posted: Jan. 28, 2012
If there has been anything consistent about the NBA this season, it’s been its inconsistency.
After a 109-71 rout at the hand of the Blazers in Portland last night, the outlook appeared to be bleak for the Suns as they returned to Phoenix to find a Grizzlies team that had won seven of their last nine games waiting for them.
But in the first half, it was all Suns, leading by as many as 16 points in the first half as an easy victory appeared inevitable. The Suns had the look of a team that had a day’s rest, while the Grizzlies appeared to be the team that had just come off a back-to-back.
Phoenix held Memphis to 36-percent in the first half, allowing the Grizzlies to score no more than 16 points in either quarter. But the second half was a different story, with Suns only amassing 15 points in third quarter as the Grizzlies cut the lead to five.
In the fourth, it was a back-and-forth battle with the game coming down to the wire. Dudley’s two free throws with 29 seconds left put the Suns up two, with Memphis’ Rudy Gay knotting the game at 84 apiece on a drive with 23.8 seconds left in the game.
However, Dudley would come up clutch again, drilling two free throws to seal the game at 86-84 in the closing seconds.
“I haven’t shot free throws like that since the BC (Boston College) days,” Suns swingman Jared Dudley joked. “When we were playing Syracuse and beating Hak (teammate Hakim Warrick).”
Steve Nash, who became just the third player in franchise history to suit up 700 times for the Suns, shot 8-of-14 from the floor to total 21 points on the night. Marcin Gortat strung together his 11th consecutive double-digit rebounding efforts, the NBA’s longest current streak, mustering 12 rebounds to go along with his 13 points.
Jared Dudley finished with 20 points and Markieff Morris added 10, marking the only two other Suns players in double figures. Gay and Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 18 points apiece.
Nash, who is just seven assists shy of tying the team’s franchise record, will look to break that on Monday when the Suns play host to the Mavs.
“We all need to be consistent and buy into what the coaches are saying,” Dudley said. “With that I think you’ll a little more progress.”
Socks Night at US Airways Center
Former Suns guard Elliot “Socks” Perry was at US Airways Center on Saturday. He wasn’t there as a fan or coach, but as a broadcaster for the Grizzlies.
Perry grew up and played collegiately in Memphis before being drafted by the Clippers in 1991. Although he only played three of his 10 seasons in the league with Phoenix, “Socks” was a fan favorite, known for sporting eye goggles and long white socks.
“Some of my favorite memories here are the players I played with,” Perry said. “It was a wonderful organization and of course, they treated me right.
“I have fond memories with Charles (Barkley), Kevin (Johnson) AC (Green), Ced (Ceballos), Dan (Majerle), Danny Ainge and Wayman Tisdale. I just enjoyed it and I was blessed to be a part of a great organization and a great community.”
It was the third-annual “Facebook Night” at US Airways Center on Saturday, and fans that purchased a ticket through the Suns’ “Facebook Night” promotion received a discounted rate, a t-shirt, a lottery ticket, admission to watch pregame warm-ups, as well as the ability to attend a personal Q&A with Suns forward Channing Frye after the game.
After briefly starting Markieff Morris at power forward and Ronnie Price at shooting guard, Gentry switched back to starting Channing Frye at the 4 and Jared Dudley at the 2. In addition, Gentry also changed up the rotation.
In an attempt to find some combinations that work, point guard Sebastian Telfair was the first man off the bench tonight and small forward Josh Childress was the second. Meanwhile, Suns shooting guard Shannon Brown didn’t receive any time in the first half, while Childress took the lion’s share of his minutes.
“I’m going to be honest with you because I’m not a selfish guy but having Jared and Channing back in the lineup looked more fluid,” Suns guard Ronnie Price said. “It’s not about me it’s about what works best and I think those guys mesh well.”
Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins commented on former NBA great Lafayette Lever having his number retired at Arizona State this past Thursday. Out of all the Sun Devil alumni to ever grace the NBA hardwood, Hollins said that he was the best defender of them all, Cavs Head Coach Byron Scott was the best/shooter scorer and “Fat” was the best all-around player.
“He was a great player at ASU and a great player in the pros,” Hollins said about Lever. “It was overdue for him.”
Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.