Grizzlies' slow-down style stymies Suns

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PHOENIX -- Most opponents cannot keep up with Phoenix Suns.

The Memphis Grizzlies are an exception.

Slowing the game at times to a wagon-train pace, Memphis topped the previously sizzling Suns 99-91 Thursday at US Airways Arena.

The Grizzlies (14-17) also whipped the Suns in Memphis on Dec. 3. Other than the two losses to the Grizzlies, the Suns lost only two other games over the past month.

Forward Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Suns guard Goran Dragic scored a career-high 33 points and added seven assists.

"Memphis is not a good matchup for us," Dragic said. "They have a lot of big guys under the rim, and they attack the paint."

The Suns (19-12) played without guard Eric Bledsoe, who was a late scratch because of a right knee sprain. Gerald Green started in his place and scored nine points.

The lineup change took away the Suns' chief advantage: the ability to play their dual-point-guard backcourt of Bledsoe and Dragic.

Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, noting the battle of wills in establishing the teams' preferred tempos, said, "It's tough to play at that pace. They practice that way. They play that way. It's not our style."

The Grizzlies shut down the Suns' 3-point game (Phoenix shot just 8-for-30 from long range) while running up a monstrous 54-15 advantage in bench scoring. Memphis got key contributions from forward Ed Davis (8-for-11 for 16 points, plus 11 rebounds) and guard Jerryd Bayless (17 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter).

The Grizzlies ran up a 57-44 lead early in the third quarter. The Suns then took off on an 18-0 run thanks to a series of driving layups, steals fast breaks, a spurt led by Dragic and forward P.J. Tucker.

The surge gave the Suns a 62-57 lead, and they held a 73-69 advantage heading into the final quarter.

"We knew they'd make a run," Davis said. "We just had to withstand it and make a last push."

They did just that.

The Grizzlies went on a 13-2 run to start the fourth, capped by a whirling fast-break layup by Davis that gave them an 82-75 lead. Moments later, Bayless nailed a 3-pointer to give Memphis a 94-84 lead. The Suns never threatened again.

Bayless, who played in high school just a couple of miles from the Suns' arena, joked, "A fan said that I had disgraced St. Mary's (high school). That hurt my feelings. That got me going a little."

Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said, "They ran downhill on us....But I thought our guys showed a lot of character ... after taking a serious punch ... (and got) a very impressive win on the road."

After the Suns took a 26-22 lead after the first quarter, the Grizzlies battered the Suns in the paint and took a 53-41 halftime lead. Thirty-eight of the Grizzlies' first-half points came in the paint. Meanwhile, the Suns were misfiring from long range, shooting just 2-for-11 on 3-pointers in the first half.

NOTES: After the Suns went 10-3 in December, the NBA selected Jeff Hornacek as the Western Conference's coach of the month. "I take it as a team award," Hornacek said. He became the first person to win coach and player honors for the same franchise. He was named player of the month for the Suns in December 1991. ... The Grizzlies defeated the Suns 110-91 on Dec. 3 in Phoenix. That sent the Suns to a season-worst 9-9. Phoenix won 10 of its next 13 games. ... The Suns came into the game 28-7 all-time vs. the Grizzlies in Phoenix, their best home winning percentage (.800) against any opponent. ... The Grizzlies acknowledge they are different than many teams in the generally high-scoring, up-tempo West. "We are kind of the knuckleball," coach Dave Joerger said. "We are built differently. We have to try to play from a lead." ... The Grizzlies continue to play without injured C Marc Gasol.

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