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Can we just take a moment and talk (more) about that Grizzlies game? Jermaine O'Neal, Marcin Gortat, P. J. Tucker, Kendall Marshall and Goran Dragic the closing line up? Yeah, that was cool...especially since they went on a 6-0 run to close out the game. But more important was the 14-5 run that started when THE DRAGON ENTERED.

Goran was clearly frustrated early in the game. He was mad about being in foul trouble but being the fierce competitor that we know he is, came in and took it out with an old fashion Bear Stomp. Fun stuff.

As for the Marshall / Dragic combo, it worked primarily because Goran was able to be super aggressive and didn't have possessions ruined by Shannon Brown or Michael Beasley and also b/c the Grizz played two PGs together as well. You can call Kendall the point guard if you want -- he did bring the ball up the floor -- but it was Goran who made everything happen.

Does playing with a non-scorer like Marshall free up Dragic to be more aggressive or was this just one game against a team that really didn't play very well and a Slovenian who was angry and turned into a ancient flying reptile of destruction? We'll have to see what happens next time these two are on the court together. I'm all for seeing more because why not.

And props to Kendall for being a confident, efficient shooter. I'm not convinced he can be consistent with those mechanics but it is definitely good to seem him play with moxie.

On to the Hornets...

You will kindly recall that the Suns beat the Hornets in Phoenix on the 16th of November. Those were good times...

Gortat and the boys fell behind 19 points in the second half but battled back to take the game to OT and earned a 111-108 win.

For Wednesday's game, the key will be for the Suns to carry over their energy and DOMINATING WILL demonstrated in Memphis. The Grizzlies made a ton of mistakes and were a "step slow" as Brevin Knight noted on the broadcast, and the Suns took advantage. This was similar to their win over the Lakers who also were flat in the fourth.

Taking advantage of other teams playing poorly is a good sign. Beating teams playing on a more equal footing will be a nice next step.

Last 10 Games

Over their last ten games, the Suns have flipped the script and are ranked 25th on offense (98.1 ORtg) and 15th on defense (102.7 DRtg). They are scoring 95.7 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting and giving up 100 ppg on 46.1 FG% and are 4-6 in the stretch.

The Hornets (3-7) are giving up 103.1 ppg on 48.9% shooting and scoring 98 ppg on 46.0 FG%. New Orleans is ranked 14th on offense (103.1 ORtg) and 28th on defense (110.1 DRtg).

So basically, a mediocre defensive/poor offensive team (Suns) vs. a mediocre offensive/poor defensive team (Hornets). Get your popcorn!

New Orleans is led offensively by Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordan, both with 16.9 points per game. With Anderson's ability to stretch the floor and his activity and mobility around the glass, I'd expect to see more Markieff Morris. Guys like Anderson give Scola fits.

Robin Lopez vs Marcin Gortat

Presented without comment:

Gortat: PER 16.5; PPG 11.7; RPG 8.9; TS% .555; MPG 32

Lopez: PER 20.1; PPG 11.3; PRG 5.4; TS% .592; MPG 26

Looking at Robin's Synergy stats are interesting. The Hornets post him up a lot (152 times this season, 30% of his possessions) but he's only converting 43.6% of his attempts for .796 points per possession which is ranked "Average".

Where Robin excels offensively is the same places he did in 2010 with the Suns -- on the move. He's considered "Excellent" on both Cuts (1.383) and as the Roll Man on pick and roll (1.118). He moves well off the ball and finishes when moving towards the rim.

Gortat, ironically, also has 152 post up possessions and is slightly more efficient with .882 PPP. On the move, Marcin is slightly worse than Lopez with Cuts (1.133) and as the Roll Man (1.084).

Lopez also excels at offensive put-backs with 117 points (1.345 PPP) vs 74 points (1.156) for Gortat.

This should be a fun battle to watch, but the guy who will probably be the key is the sneaky-good point guard, Greivis Vasquez (13.8 ppg, 9.3 apg).

GAME TIME: 6:00pm Arizona, 8:00pm ET on Fox Sports AZ and League Pass.

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BONUS FUN READ!

Big Screen Dream Team: the 10 best ballers in film history - SBNation.com
It's award season, which means it's the perfect time of year for Dan Grunfeld to announce his all-time squad of basketball players from movies. GIFs have graciously been provided for each selection, so their greatness is most properly understood.

Time: 6 p.m. MST TV: FSNA The Phoenix Suns head into their clash of Western Conference cellar dwellers Wednesday in the Big Easy fresh off their most impressive road victory of the season. While...

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Game Story

As we've seen more often than not in recent games, the Suns came out ready to play and got off to a great start. They went inside to Marcin Gortat early and often in the first quarter, and he made his first seven shots including a variety of moves from dunks to jumpers to hooks. He missed his next shot but went hit one more to close out the first half with 17 points on 8-10 shooting.

The Suns built up a lead in the first but Memphis made a run when Dragic and Gortat took a seat. However, the run against the bench couldn't be blamed on Kendall Marshall, who recorded his career-high in points in the first half alone with eight on three long jumpers (two 3-pointers, one toe-on-the-tape 2-pointer).

Zach Randolph, who has been in a major slump fro the Grizzlies, got off to a good start as well, putting up 12 and seven in the first two quarters, while Jerryd Bayless was allowed to take a handful of open free-throw line jumpers to get himself going, and he finished the half with 14 points on 6-9 shooting.

Most of the statistical catagories were a wash in the first half and the Suns found themselves down just two at the break at 52-50.

The third quarter was an absolute mess, as the two teams couldn't throw it in the ocean. Phoenix and Memphis combined to make just 15 field goals in the period and the Suns lost the quarter 15-19. Phoenix trailed 71-65 heading into the fourth quarter and it looked like the same old story was going to play itself out. But Goran Dragic, who only scored two points in the first three quarters after getting into foul trouble, refused to let that happen.

The sloppy play continued into the fourth quarter, but the Dragon bared his fangs and put the team on his back. Beginning at the 7:07 mark with the Suns down 77-76, Dragic proceeded to go off and was responsible for the next 17 of the final 19 points for the Suns. He kicked it off with back-to-back 3-point plays on drives to the basket, hit Marshall for his third 3-ball of the game and then pulled off another old-fashioned 3-point play. Then he found Jermaine O'Neal for a dunk, used some fancy footwork and great patience to get a bunny, got to the free-throw line for a pair and then hit a pull-up jumper after a sick crossover.

It truly was a masterful performance, and as I watched I couldn't help but have flashbacks to this.

Lots o' Thoughts After Dots

  • I really can't say enough about Goran Dragic in the fourth quarter. He did virtually nothing at all and even got into foul trouble in the first three quarters, but somehow he got it going and was unstoppable in the fourth. Bravo Goran. Bravo indeed.
  • Dragic and Gortat get all the headlines, but their back-ups also had big games for the Suns. Kendall Marshall had the best game of his short career with 11 points on 4-8 shooting and four assists with only two turnovers. And O'neal, in his first game back after sitting out with an irregular heartbeat, finished with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, and also chipped in four rebounds and three assists for good measure.
  • Speaking of Marshall and O'Neal, they joined Dragic, Gortat and P.J. Tucker on the court for the final six minutes of the game in a very odd line-up we had not seen play together before. Two point guards, two centers and whatever you want to call Tucker. Kudos to Lindsey Hunter for giving it a go. That might have been the best coaching move of his short career as the head coach in Phoenix.
  • P.J. Tucker was in there at the end because he was the only wing to show up and make his mark on this one. Jared Dudley missed all five of his shot attempts and went scoreless, Michael Beasley scored six points on seven shots and Shannon Brown scored five on four shots. Tucker finished with nine points on 4-7 shooting and tied for team high with seven rebounds in addition to his customary hustle plays.
  • Jerryd Bayless was the only Grizzly the Suns weren't able to keep in check. They let him get too many open looks early which allowed him to heat up and start hitting some tougher ones late. In total, he finished with a game-high 29 points on 11-15 shooting. Too bad Grant Hill wasn't there to show that punk who's boss.
  • Z-Bo finished with his standard 21-13 double-double, but I never felt like he was dominating inside like he has int he past against Phoenix.
  • Gortat was great on offense, but he might have been even better on defense. He and O'Neal combined to shut down Marc Gasol. Gasol fouled out with 2:30 left in the game and took a seat with just six points on 2-8 shooting, three rebounds and four turnovers.
  • Continuing with Gortat, one thing I don't get is how the Suns still tend to go away from Gortat in the second half, even when he is killing it in the first. Gortat took just one shot in the second half and split a pair of free throws to finish with 20 and seven rebounds after a nearly perfect 17-point first half.
  • Kendall Marshall continues to progress and is starting to find his game. He rose up with no hesitation on his jumpers and was making plays for his teammates off the dribble with a couple beautiful feeds. People were ready to call Marshall a bust the second the season began, but since he was drafted I've been preaching patience. He's a project, and he's slowly starting to come around.
  • The Suns held their own across the board statistically, out-shooting Memphis everywhere but at the free-throw line (PHX 18-22, MEM 15-17), winning the battle of the boards 40-34 and out-assisting the Grizz 19-15. They did turn the ball over 22 times, but the forced 17 turnovers by the Grizzlies as well.
  • I'm really liking the fight I've seen from these guys under Hunter.
  • Go Suns!
Solutions to the toughest problems are often discovered in blatantly accidental ways. It’s usually a story behind the discovery of the law of gravity or something of the sort, but on Tuesday...

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The Phoenix Suns play the Memphis Grizzlies in the third game of the season series tonight, with each team having won their home home game.

Season Series Review

In Game 1 of the season series in Memphis, the Suns held a lead for most of the second half and only succumbed in overtime when Zach Randolph caught fire for one of his best offensive games of the season.

In Game 2 in Phoenix, the Suns beat Memphis on a last-second stop-and-twist layup by Goran Dragic that was, at the moment, the biggest win on the young-ish season.

Tayshawn Prince for Rudy Gay

Now the Grizzlies are all kinds of discombobulated since trading away one of their best players and notes Suns killer, Rudy Gay, for Detroit's Tayshawn Prince last week. In the first game with the new guys, Memphis barely squeaked by Washington.

"I was worried," coach Lionel Hollins said. "You never know. We had new players on the bench, so we had more people to work with. But you never know how it is going to work out when you have new guys for the first game."

Other new acquisitions include young big men Ed Davis and Austin Daye.

Small Memphis Backcourt

For now, Jarryd Bayless is starting alongside Tony Allen and Mike Conley on the wing until Prince settles in to the new team. That makes for a small, quick back court and could, potentially, allow P.J. Tucker to guard Conley at the point while Dragic takes on the quicker but less physical Bayless. Mike Conley is now a scorer, averaging 17 shot attempts in the two games since Gay's trade.

Bad Road Team

While the season series and the potential wing matchups might appear promising to Suns fans, do not forget that the Suns are still only 4-20 on the road - worst in the West.

Lately, the Suns have returned their hold 'em and fold 'em ways in the second half of road games, hanging their heads once the home team gets a little second-half momentum. After keeping a lead in Sacramento in interim head coach Lindsey Hunter's debut, the Suns have folded in the second half in San Antonio, Dallas and Golden State.

Quotes out of the locker room following the Golden State sounded eerily similar to quotes all season: once we got down, we hung our heads (paraphrased).

Memphis stats


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Rudy Gay 37 36.8 6.8 16.4 41.6 0.9 2.9 31.2 3.0 3.8 78.0 1.3 4.5 5.8 2.5 2.4 1.4 0.8 2.1 17.6
Zach Randolph 37 35.2 6.7 13.7 48.6 0.1 0.4 12.5 2.9 3.9 74.8 4.5 7.3 11.8 1.4 2.0 0.8 0.5 2.3 16.3
Marc Gasol 39 34.4 5.0 10.4 47.8 0.0 0.2 0.0 3.5 4.1 87.3 2.5 5.1 7.5 3.6 1.8 1.0 1.8 3.1 13.5
Mike Conley 38 34.4 4.5 10.9 41.2 1.3 3.6 36.8 2.8 3.4 82.8 0.6 2.1 2.6 6.0 2.6 2.3 0.3 2.0 13.1
Tony Allen 36 27.2 3.3 7.8 42.6 0.0 0.3 0.0 1.6 2.1 75.3 1.3 2.7 3.9 1.2 1.1 1.7 0.6 2.6 8.3
Quincy Pondexter 27 23.1 2.3 5.4 41.8 1.2 2.9 42.3 0.9 1.2 75.8 0.8 1.5 2.3 1.3 0.9 0.7 0.1 1.8 6.7
Darrell Arthur 27 17.2 3.0 6.2 47.9 0.1 0.4 27.3 0.6 0.9 69.6 1.0 2.1 3.1 0.7 0.9 0.4 0.6 2.1 6.6
Marreese Speights 39 14.5 2.7 6.2 43.2 0.1 0.1 40.0 1.2 1.7 70.8 1.9 2.9 4.8 0.4 0.9 0.2 0.7 2.2 6.6
Wayne Ellington 39 16.7 1.9 4.9 38.9 1.0 2.4 40.4 0.4 0.4 93.8 0.1 1.2 1.3 1.1 0.5 0.4 0.0 1.0 5.2
Jerryd Bayless 39 17.7 1.8 5.0 36.7 0.5 1.7 31.3 0.8 1.0 80.0 0.2 1.6 1.8 3.1 1.5 0.7 0.3 1.9 5.1
Josh Selby 10 5.8 0.6 2.2 27.3 0.1 0.6 16.7 0.7 1.1 63.6 0.0 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.7 0.2 0.0 0.7 2.0
Tony Wroten 8 4.3 0.4 1.8 21.4 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.6 0.8 83.3 0.4 0.6 1.0 0.6 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.3 1.4
Hamed Haddadi 11 6.5 0.6 1.6 38.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 50.0 0.8 1.2 2.0 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.4 1.0 1.4

No longer on Memphis: Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur, Marreese Speights

Suns stats


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Goran Dragic 39 32.2 5.0 11.2 44.7 1.3 3.9 31.8 2.7 3.8 71.1 0.7 2.1 2.8 6.1 2.3 1.5 0.3 2.6 14.0
Luis Scola 41 27.6 5.6 11.8 47.0 0.0 0.2 10.0 2.0 2.5 76.9 2.0 4.3 6.4 2.4 1.5 0.8 0.5 3.2 13.1
Shannon Brown 41 27.2 4.8 11.3 42.1 0.9 3.1 28.6 2.0 2.3 84.2 0.7 2.0 2.8 2.2 1.5 1.1 0.3 1.7 12.3
Jared Dudley 39 30.8 4.4 9.0 48.3 1.5 3.8 39.3 1.9 2.3 82.0 1.2 2.5 3.6 2.8 1.4 1.1 0.1 1.6 12.1
Marcin Gortat 41 32.2 5.0 9.4 52.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.7 2.5 66.7 2.2 6.7 9.0 1.3 1.6 0.7 1.9 2.2 11.6
Michael Beasley 37 21.5 3.7 9.9 37.6 0.7 2.1 31.6 1.3 1.8 72.3 0.9 2.7 3.6 1.9 2.0 0.4 0.6 1.5 9.4
Markieff Morris 41 20.2 3.2 7.8 41.1 0.5 1.6 28.8 0.8 1.2 67.3 1.6 2.8 4.3 1.3 0.9 0.9 0.8 2.5 7.7
Jermaine O`Neal 32 15.6 2.5 5.4 47.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 1.7 77.8 0.9 3.2 4.1 0.6 0.9 0.4 1.2 2.1 6.4
Sebastian Telfair 40 18.1 2.2 5.7 38.3 1.0 2.5 39.6 1.0 1.3 78.0 0.3 1.4 1.6 2.6 1.3 0.6 0.2 1.9 6.3
P.J. Tucker 39 20.6 2.0 4.4 45.9 0.2 0.7 33.3 0.6 1.0 61.5 1.2 2.3 3.5 1.0 0.6 0.5 0.3 1.8 4.8
Wesley Johnson 16 7.4 0.9 3.0 31.3 0.4 1.3 33.3 0.1 0.2 66.7 0.2 0.8 1.0 0.3 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.5 2.4
Luke Zeller 11 3.3 0.6 1.6 38.9 0.1 0.3 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 1.4
Diante Garrett 6 5.0 0.3 0.8 40.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 1.2 0.7 0.3 0.0 0.2 0.8
Kendall Marshall 11 4.6 0.3 1.0 27.3 0.1 0.5 20.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.7 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.6


Laker Lottery Watch

Lakers play at New Jersey tonight after barely beating Detroit on Sunday, who were still waiting for Jose Calderon to get cleared and were missing Tayshawn Prince. Lakers needed Detroit to miss three straight easy shots to seal the 1-point win.

Lakers may be winning some games lately, but they still don't look like a good team.

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