On a night when the Phoenix Suns knew they were shorthanded, the team came together and got a big road win over the Memphis Grizzles, 125-108.
Down four rotational players, including team leader Devin Booker, everyone else on the Phoenix Suns roster stepped up to deliver a big win on the road at Memphis. While one player did up his scoring load considerably – Duane Washington Jr. – it was indeed a team win when not one Phoenix player played more than 27 minutes in the victory.
Change from the beginning for the Phoenix Suns
With the primary backup for Booker – Landry Shamet – missing for Phoenix, Monty Williams took a different approach, starting a more traditional line-up with two big men. Deandre Ayton and Jock Landale started, reflecting the Suns being shorthanded and matching up with the Grizzles’ size in Steven Adams and Jaron Jackson Jr.
Whether or not the two-big-man approach worked is debatable, but the Suns were stout defensively in the first quarter and, more importantly, were in the game. Given how several first quarters have gone, the Suns needed to hold Memphis to just 22 first-quarter points.
Phoenix picked up the pressure in the second quarter and took control of the game.
Good defense and shooting lead the Suns to victory
The Suns were strong defensively all evening, holding Memphis to under 40% shooting for the game and under 30% from three-point land. Alternatively, Phoenix shot well, hitting 50% overall and even better at 56% on threes. However, in the second quarter, the defense and offense intersected for Phoenix to put Memphis on their heels.
The game was close, with the Suns leading 30-29, with just over 8 minutes left in the second quarter when Phoenix took over. A 20 to eight run put the Suns in command 50-38. Some timely shooting and alert defense keyed that run, including an excellent theft by Mikal Bridges against Ja Morant on an inbounds pass. It was one of three turnovers on inbounds plays after buckets the Suns caused.
With a double-figure lead, as the quarter closed out, Washington Jr. made sure Phoenix would stay in control as the guard scored ten straight points as part of a personal 10-4 run to help close the half.
The Grizzles made a run in the third quarter charged by Morant attacking the rim and earning eight of his game-high 16 free throws in the quarter. Memphis could only get as close as six points, at 80-74.
Phoenix had answers, as they went on a 15-2 run to stretch the lead to 19 at 95-76. A run spurred by the play of Washington Jr. and Ayton, who had 12 of the 15 between them. The run included a four-point play for Wasington Jr., who hit a three and picked up a rare foul on Morant.
The Suns’ bench did the job to start the fourth quarter, maintaining the lead, and with seven minutes to play, Memphis subbed the entire ream and raised the white flag. It was as good of a win for Phoenix as they have had all season. The team shared the ball, hit the boards, and played like the Suns we know, even without their big gun, which is a big deal.