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Memphis wins despite injuries, 31 turnovers

12/8/2002

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- With three of their five starters injured,
the Memphis Grizzlies still had enough to end a five-game losing
streak.

The remaining Grizzlies clicked well enough on offense Sunday to
shoot 54 percent, overcome 31 turnovers and defeat the Phoenix Suns
102-94.

''It's just being patient, running plays all the way through and
playing together,'' Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright said. ''Nobody
was trying to hog the ball. Everybody was taking good shots and
getting back on defense.

''We didn't worry about who shot the ball, why they missed or
whatever. We just got back and played defense,'' he said.

Pau Gasol scored 21 points and had 17 rebounds to lead Memphis.
The short-handed Grizzlies played without injured starters Jason
Williams and Shane Battier while rookie Drew Gooden played only 19
minutes because of a bruised knee.

The 31 turnovers were one short of the franchise record set
during the 1994-95 season against Seattle, their first season in
the NBA while in Vancouver.

''We've got to finish on the break and we've got to capitalize,
and we're not doing it,'' said Phoenix guard Stephon Marbury, who
led the Suns with 35 points and seven assists. ''We can't allow a
team to make that many mistakes and not capitalize.''

Wesley Person added 17 points, and Wright had 17 points and 11
rebounds to help Memphis to a 47-33 rebounding advantage.

Shawn Marion had 23 points for Phoenix.

Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown was delighted not only with the
defense, but his team's work on the boards. He said Gasol, who had
been held to single-digit scoring the last two games, seemed to
play better with Wright on the floor.

''With (Wright) in the game creating space, it opened things up
for (Gasol),'' Brown said. ''I'm proud of Pau. He played big.
Outscoring them in the paint (46-38) was big for us, especially
against a tough team like Phoenix.''

The Grizzlies led 49-44 at halftime despite a poor start and 17
turnovers. Not only did the Grizzlies fail to score until 8:41 of
the first quarter, they didn't even hit the rim on their first six
possessions.

But Memphis recovered to shoot 56 percent in the half, led by
nine points each from Wright and Brevin Knight, who was scoreless
in the second half, but finished with 11 assists.

Marbury had 15 points in the first half to lead the Suns, including 10
in the first quarter on 5-for-7 from the field.

''When we go out and play basketball, (we care about) good
defense and sharing the ball and getting a lead,'' Phoenix coach
Frank Johnson said. ''Then, all of a sudden, we let down, we decide
we are not going to move the ball as much as we normally do.''

The Grizzlies opened the second half with a 12-2 run to take a
61-46 lead.

Marion and Marbury did their best to keep Phoenix close -- Marion
with 13 points and Marbury with 11 points in the third to account
for all of Phoenix's 24 in the quarter.

Memphis still led 72-68 entering the final period, and Phoenix
couldn't recover.

''I think it is just the mentality of how we approached (the
game),'' Marion said. ''I think we let ourselves down.''

Game notes
Williams didn't dress after slipping in practice Saturday
and injuring his hip. Battier missed his second game because of a
leg infection. ''He's day-to-day,'' Brown said. ''Unfortunately,
it's not today.'' ... Memphis' Gordan Giricek, who leads the league
in free-throw shooting, missed a free throw early in the second
quarter, his first miss after 10 in a row. Giricek entered having
hit 37 of his last 38. ... Amare Stoudemire and Wright drew double
technicals for mouthing at each other late in the first half. The
jawing continued until Suns coach Frank Johnson finally hollered:
''Amare, don't say another word.'' ... Johnson later got his own
tech for arguing a call in the third, but said the
Stoudemire-Wright exchange hurt the Suns rookie. ''The
confrontation took (Stoudemire) out of the game,'' Johnson said.
''He just didn't have the same energy.'' ... The Suns entered
having won 23 of the 27 against the Grizzlies, including 98-85
Wednesday.