PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns went from bad to much, much
On the brink of snapping a four-game losing streak, the Suns
couldn't score in the final 3½ minutes, blew a seven-point lead,
and lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 102-96 Thursday night.
Spanish rookie Pau Gasol scored a career-high 31 points and
blocked five shots for the Grizzlies, who finished with a 19-4 run,
including the game's final 13 points.
"It just fell apart on us," the Suns' Shawn Marion said.
Stromile Swift added 16 points and 10 rebounds as the Grizzlies
beat the Suns for only the second time in 18 tries and only the
second time ever at America West Arena.
Phoenix led 96-89 after Stephon Marbury made one of two free
throws with 3:26 to play, but the Suns failed to score on their
last nine possessions, going 0-for-9 from the field with a
Gasol and fellow rookie Shane Battier each scored six in the
final 13-0 run.
The 7-foot Gasol was 12-for-20 from the field.
"They trusted me, and I was trying to score every time and win
the game," he said of his teammates. "I feel comfortable in the
post against big bodies, because I can use my quickness."
Jason Williams made the decision to keep going to Gasol down the
stretch, and the Suns couldn't stop him.
"Jason kept calling the play for him. He saw something that was
working for us and kept going to him," Memphis coach Sidney Lowe
said. "I think that gave Pau a lot of confidence and he played
On Stephon Marbury "bobblehead" night, Marbury was 5-for-20
from the field with 13 points, and fellow guard Penny Hardaway was
4-for-14 for 12 points.
"We want to win the game so bad we're putting a lot of pressure
on ourselves right now," Marbury said, "instead of just
Marion had 24 points and a season-high 17 rebounds for the
Suns but didn't shoot in the final four minutes.
Skiles, given a vote of confidence by Suns president Bryan
Colangelo on Wednesday, said there is no one glaring weakness, just
a lot of things that are going wrong.
"It is very difficult to win if we are giving up a hundred
points a game and the other team is shooting a high percentage,"
Skiles said. "We are not fronting the post like we should, we are
letting them penetrate. There are a lot of factors."
Jason Williams scored 16, while Battier and Tony Massenburg
added 15 apiece for the Grizzlies, who have won three of their last
five road games but are just 4-14 away from home overall.
Rodney Rogers scored 16 for Phoenix.
The Suns trailed 78-76 after three quarters, but Marion scored
eight and Rogers six in a 16-5 run to start the fourth quarter.
Marion's 10-footer put Phoenix up 92-83 with 4:54 to play.
The Grizzlies shot out to a 21-8 lead behind three consecutive
long jumpers by Williams, the first two of them 3-pointers.
The Suns never could quite catch up the rest of the first half.
Hardaway made the first of two free throws to cut it to 45-44 with
3:17 left in the half, but missed the second.
Memphis scored the next eight points to go up 53-44 on Stromile
Swift's two free throws 1:25 before the break. The Grizzlies led
55-48 at the half.
Phoenix outscored Memphis 12-4 to start the second half to
finally take the lead, 60-59, on Marbury's 16-footer with 6:56 left
in the third quarter.
Phoenix's only lead of the first half was 2-0. ... The
Suns' Bo Outlaw got his first start of the season. ... The
Grizzlies are 1-7 on the road against the Western Conference and
4-14 against the West overall. ... Phoenix is 22-4 all-time against
the Grizzlies. ... The Suns are 6-11 in the last month. .. Hardaway
is 11-for-42 in his last four games.
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