Suns Can't Keep Up With Grizz, Lose, 109-99, In Memphis

Though the Suns kept things close in the first half with a valiant effort, they couldn't overcome fatigue and sloppy play in the road loss.

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Turnovers Doom Phoenix In 109-99 Loss

The Phoenix Suns, going into their first road back-to-back of the season, were hoping that their depth would bail them out, counteracting some of the inevitable fatigue.

Though the starters did play limited minutes and the bench scored 37 points (right up against their season average of 40.5), it wasn't enough to overcome sloppy play across the board. The Suns committed 23 turnovers that led to 29 points for the Grizzlies and basically cost them the game as they fell 109-99 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

Nash, despite accumulating 16 points and 11 assists in 30 minutes, still seemed uncharacteristically unsure directing the offense, particularly in pick and roll situations. Contributing to his frustrations was the continuing poor play of Robin Lopez, who, in 14 minutes, finished with only two points, two rebounds and two blocked shots.

Nash's only real support came from Grant Hill (19 points, 12 rebounds), Jason Richardson (17 points) and Hakim Warrick (16 points, five rebounds). Channing Frye's shot remained MIA (1-for-7) and offseason acquisition Hedo Turkoglu was largely absent (eight points, one rebound and one assist in 21 minutes).

Zach Randolph dominated for Memphis with 23 points and 20 rebounds, while Rudy Gay scored 22 and grabbed eight boards.

Overall, the Suns kept things relatively close, but could never quite overtake a noticeably spryer Grizzly team that gained some separation in a 33-23 third quarter.

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Phoenix Suns Schedule Delivers The Memphis Grizzlies On A Back-To-Back

Who can forget that thrilling double-overtime classic between the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies played way back three days ago? Chances are Rudy Gay is going to remember how his team blew a four-point lead in the span of 1.1 seconds, thanks in large part to his missed free throw, which he followed with a made free throw that he tried to miss in order to run out the clock. Those are the kinds of mistakes young teams make while they are in transition from talented up-and-comer to a winning franchise.

It remains to be seen if the Suns look back on that game and Jason Richardson's big shots as a watershed moment in their season or if the thrilling win fades into memory amidst a season racked by disappointment. What we do know is the Suns took that momentum into Atlanta where they beat a very good Hawks team and now get to travel to Memphis with no rest and take on the Grizzlies in their building. On the other hand, it's not as if the FedEx Forum and its second-to-last place 2009-10 attendance figures are all that much of a home court advantage.

One of the more impressive aspects of Friday's win over the Grizzlies was the Suns 55-58 rebounding dominance. It should be noted, however, that Friday was Zach Randolph's first game back from a tail bone injury and, despite his 14 boards, he didn't look good. For the still-early season, the Grizzlies are last place in the NBA with a minus eight rebounding differential (the Suns are 28 with a minus 4.16). The Grizzlies rebounding troubles, however, can be attributed to injuries to Randolph and Marc Gasol while the Suns are still trying to get better production from Robin Lopez.

With the Suns having played yesterday in Atlanta and the Grizzlies having a day's rest, the Phoenix bench is going to have to play an even bigger role if the team wants to improve to 4-3 on the season. Fortunately, the Suns bench has played well this year, although Goran Dragic looked a bit sluggish in Atlanta. If he's going strong and can limit Steve Nash to about 25 minutes, the Suns will have a good shot at pulling off a second impressive road win. If Dragic struggles and a tired Nash is forced to carry much of the load, it won't bode well for Phoenix.

After tonight's game, the Suns return home and have three days rest before facing the Sacramento Kings on Friday. That, at least, should give them the full confidence that they can leave it all on the floor tonight and have plenty of time to recover before the next game.

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