Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/23

Game 1: Thursday, December 23rd
Grizzlies102Final
Suns109
Game 2: Wednesday, January 19th
Grizzlies88Final
Suns79
Game 3: Tuesday, February 1st
Suns97Final
Grizzlies108
Game 4: Sunday, March 20th
Suns97Final
Grizzlies91

Grizzlies 102

(12-17, 5-10 away)

Suns 109

(23-3, 12-2 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:00 PM ET, December 23, 2004

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    MEM 27 26 24 25102
    PHX 29 27 22 31109

    Top Performers

    Memphis: J. Williams 21 Pts, 9 Ast, 2 Stl

    Phoenix: S. Marion 29 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk

    Stoudemire, Marion pack 1-2 punch

    PHOENIX (AP) -- No team since Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were at their best has gotten off to a better start to a season than the Phoenix Suns.

    Amare Stoudemire had 30 points, 11 rebounds and five steals -- and Shawn Marion scored 29 points -- to lead the Suns to their season-best 10th consecutive victory, 109-102 over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.

    The Suns -- winners of nine in a row earlier this season -- improved to 23-3, the NBA's best start the Bulls went 41-3 in 1995-96.

    Steve Nash had 17 points and 14 assists, and sealed the victory with four free throws in the last 23.1 seconds. Nash has had at least 10 assists in each of the 10 victories. Only Magic Johnson -- in 1986-87 -- has managed that feat in NBA history.

    But the Suns were not all that happy with their latest performance, especially on defense.

    "We're getting a bad habit of playing defense when we want to," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We need to address that."

    D'Antoni thinks the Suns are getting a bit too comfortable because of their impressive record.

    "You can see we can get a lot better," he said, "but I like our record so I can't complain too much."

    Nash agrees with his coach's concerns.

    "I think our team should be proud, but I think they also should see signs of complacency at times. We need to get more focused," he said.

    Mike Miller scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half for Memphis, and Jason Williams had 19 of his 21 in the second. Pau Gasol added 19 points for the Grizzlies.

    "We had it where we wanted to get it," Miller said. "I missed the big shot and they made the free throws. That's basically it."

    Down 77-70 with 2:25 left in the third quarter, the Suns called a timeout, then went on a 17-0 run to go up 87-77 on Stoudemire's 17-footer from the baseline with 9:51 left in the game.

    Memphis cut it to 103-99 on Williams' 3-pointer, followed Gasol's inside hook with 1:53 to go. After Shane Battier missed a 3, Stoudemire sank two free throws and Phoenix led 105-99.

    Miller's 3-pointer, his only basket of the second half, with 45.1 seconds left made it 105-102. Marion's air-ball from 3-point range gave the Grizzlies the ball and a chance to tie.

    But Miller, who made his first nine shots, threw up an air-ball with 24 seconds to go, and Nash clinched it at the line.

    Coach Mike Fratello felt a lot better than he did after the Grizzlies' loss at Golden State on Wednesday.

    "Overall, for us there's a lot of good I saw coming out of this game," he said. "It's not a win, but we have to try to build on it."

    Phoenix scored the last eight points of the third quarter and the first nine of the fourth. Marion had seven points and Stoudemire six in the decisive surge.

    Consecutive stuffs by Stoudemire and Marion, both on passes from Nash, made it 95-83 with 5:51 to play.

    The Grizzlies, playing for the second night in a row, finished their western trip 2-2.

    Memphis used a 22-6 outburst to go up 77-70 on consecutive baskets by Earl Watson, leading D'Antoni to call the timeout that changed the momentum.

    Miller scored 17 points, including 15 from long-range, in a 21-4 run that erased Phoenix's nine-point early lead and put the Grizzlies ahead 35-29 with 10:11 left in the first half.

    James Posey's 3-pointer gave Memphis a 49-45 lead, but the Suns outscored the Grizzlies 11-4 over the final 3½ minutes of the half -- including 3-pointers by Richardson and Marion -- to go up 56-53 at the break.

    Game notes


    The Suns became the first team in NBA history to win 10 in a row after a 50-loss season. ... Miller was 6-for-6 in the first quarter, all on long-range jumpers. ... Memphis was without Lorenzen Wright (sore right knee) and Bonzi Wells (bruised ribs). ... The Suns' Joe Johnson was 1-for-9 shooting. ... D'Antoni improved to 44-43 as Phoenix's coach.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    MEM
    PHX
    Points 102 109
    FGM-FGA 42-81 (.519) 40-87 (.460)
    3PM-3PA 10-21 (.476) 11-28 (.393)
    FTM-FTA 8-13 (.615) 18-22 (.818)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-35 14-41
    Assists 28 28
    Turnovers 16 12
    Steals 6 9
    Blocks 6 7
    Fast Break Points 12 25
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (1/0) 14 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 7 12

    Top Performers

    Memphis
    Phoenix
    Jason Williams Williams
    Points: 21
    Reb: 0
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Shawn Marion Marion
    Points: 29
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 3