Click here for more
Lucky Number Stats
Dragic With the Dagger as Suns Beat Grizzlies
By: Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
After falling just short of stealing a game from the team with the third-best record in the West just over a week ago, the Suns wanted another shot at Memphis.
This time they wouldn’t miss, thanks to Suns point guard Goran Dragic.
With the score knotted at 80 apiece, Memphis’ Rudy Gay missed an attempt with 7.7 seconds left in the fourth period. After getting the ball off an inbounds pass, Dragic drove hard right before being cut off on the baseline.
After picking up his dribble, the 6-3 guard spun back to the middle and lofted in a lefty up-and-under with 0.5 seconds to put the Suns up two. Memphis’ tried to answer with a desperate alley-oop on the inbounds play, but the Suns thwarted it, edging the visiting Grizzlies 82-80 at home on Wednesday.
“(Suns Head Coach) Alvin (Gentry) said to catch the ball at the top in the pick-and-roll and see what kind of open options I had,” Dragic said. “I saw the open gap on the right and like always, I did that quick stop and Marc (Gasol) passed me a little bit, and I made the spin for the easy hook.”
After failing to convert in the final minutes against Dallas, Dragic knew he was going to take that last shot.
“As soon as I got the ball I said that I had to make the right play,” Dragic said. “If somebody was open, I was going to make the right decision, if I had the chance to take the shot, I was going to take it (though).”
Facing the league’s stingiest defense on a seven-game losing streak is a daunting task. But the Suns answered every bell throughout the night, proving that when they take care of the basketball and clamp down on defense, they can prevail against even the league’s most premier teams.
It was a back-and-forth affair the entire night, with the Suns even trailing by as many as 11 early on. However, Phoenix battled back in the second by switching to a zone defense against the 12th-best 3-point shooting team in the league.
But the gamble paid off with the Suns cutting the deficit to three heading into halftime. The two clubs played even the rest of the night, thanks to the Suns tightening up two areas that hurt them in their overtime loss to Memphis on December 4.
Instead of being dominated 60-38 in the paint, they held a 42-38 advantage over them. Instead of surrendering a 22-12 disadvantage in second-chance points, the Suns won that battle tonight, posting four more points over the Grizzlies.
“We got a lot of stops,” Suns swingman Jared Dudley said. “The zone slowed them down and got us in the game a bit, we got our legs underneath us in the second half and figured out how to play Zach (Randolph) and Marc (Gasol) better. We limited them from having great games to just having good games.”
Dragic totaled 12 points and eight assists on the night, while Dudley collected 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and a part in nearly every big play on the night. Meanwhile, Suns shooting guard Shannon Brown (15 points), Markieff Morris (11) and Marcin Gortat (10) rounded out the rest of the Suns players in double figures.
In winning their third straight at home over Memphis, the Suns overcame their fifth double-digit deficit to earn a victory, all of which have come at home.
Gentry continued to tinker with lineup, moving Luis Scola back into the lineup as the starting power forward. The move put Markieff Morris back on the bench.
The reason for the change was because Gentry believed that Scola will fare better against Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph.
“I didn’t want him (Morris) to be in a position where he got two quick fouls and then that’s it for the quarter,” Gentry said. “Scola is just a smart veteran guy and they’re going to allow him to bang a little more down there.”
Depending on the matchups, Gentry said you can expect the Suns to vary their starting lineup to combat what opposing teams are trying to accomplish. In fact, it was their fourth starting lineup in four games.
Injury Bug Swatted
Suns point guard Goran Dragic was back in action after missing Sunday’s game against the Magic with a stomach virus. Dragic, who looked a little peeked at practice yesterday, seemed to have much more energy at shootaround today.
“He’s got some color back in his skin today,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said. “At least color for Goran.”
P.J. Tucker, who missed the past two games with a sprained MCL also played tonight after not having any ill-effects after yesterday’s practice.
“You miss P.J. because he gives you energy off the bench and he’s done a good job of guarding the best perimeter player on the floor night-in and night out,” Gentry said.
Phoenix won because it held Memphis scoreless for a period of 3:02. The Grizzlies only converted on one of their final four shots, while also turning the ball over once.
Memphis scored a season-low 80 points in tonight’s game.Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.