Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 12/23

Game 1: Thursday, December 23rd
Game 2: Wednesday, January 19th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 1st
Game 4: Sunday, March 20th

Grizzlies 88

(22-18, 9-10 away)

Suns 79

(31-9, 16-3 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:00 PM ET, January 19, 2005

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    MEM 22 21 23 2288
    PHX 22 19 21 1779

    Top Performers

    Mem: B. Wells 16 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    PHX: S. Marion 18 Pts, 12 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

    Memphis exposes Suns' need for Nash

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Steve Nash was absent again, and so was the Phoenix Suns' flashy, high-octane game.

    The Suns put in another plodding, cold-shooting performance without the injured Nash, extending their losing streak to five games with an 88-79 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

    Suns Rise ... And Set
    First 35 games Last 5
    Losses 4 5
    PPG 110.1 90.6
    FG pct. 48.1 38.7
    APG 23.6 13.6

    Three reserves led the Grizzlies, who won their fourth in a row and 10th in 11 games. Bonzi Wells scored 16, Stromile Swift had 14 and Brian Cardinal 13 for Memphis, which set a franchise record with its fourth straight road win. Jason Williams was the only Grizzlies starter in double figures with 11 points.

    The Suns had season lows in points and field goal shooting (33 percent) for the second game in a row.

    "Pretty ugly," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "The effort is there. But the layups and easy shots we started missing, I just think guys started pressing, and we're out of sync."

    Memphis coach Mike Fratello knew he caught Phoenix at the right time.

    "You can't be without an All-Star player like Steve Nash, who is such a vital part of what they do, and expect to play the same way," Fratello said.

    With the loss and San Antonio's victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix (31-9) no longer has the NBA's best record. The Spurs are 32-9 and play Phoenix on Friday night.

    Nash could be back for that game, and his return could not come too soon.

    "That will give us a boost in confidence, and we'll play it from there," D'Antoni said of Nash's impending return.

    Quentin Richardson led Phoenix with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but shot just 6-of-21. Shawn Marion added 18 on 5-for-16 shooting and Joe Johnson had 15, going 6-of-20. Amare Stoudemire managed just eight points on 4-for-11 shooting and went to the free throw line only twice, missing them both.

    "We definitely wanted to make it an ugly game," Cardinal said, "because we know that was the only way we were going to grind it out."

    Nash, who missed the previous two games with a bruised thigh, was ready to return early this week, then twisted his back when Leandro Barbosa stepped on his foot in practice Tuesday.

    Despite their awful shooting, the Suns stayed close because the Grizzlies shot just 37 percent as the Suns constantly double-teamed Pau Gasol, who scored five points to end his 104-game streak of double-digit scoring games, the second-longest active run in the league.

    But Battier sank a 3-pointer and two free throws in a 9-0 run that put Memphis ahead 81-70 with 4:42 remaining. Johnson made a 3-pointer and Stoudemire added a stuff to cut it to 81-76 but the Suns never got closer.

    Wells rebounded his own miss, Gasol hit one of two free throws, then Cardinal made two from the line with 59.2 seconds left and it was over.

    "We came out and played an excellent defensive game," Wells said. "I know they were shorthanded with Steve Nash, but the pressure that was put on them was great. We executed just like coach Fratello wanted us to do, and it was just a great team victory."

    Phoenix missed at least three open layups in the third quarter, the last one by newcomer Smush Parker after his steal just before the buzzer.

    "It was real frustrating," Marion said, "because you work so hard to get a stop, then you miss a layup and they come back and hit one."

    Parker, signed to a 10-day contract on Wednesday after Barbosa went on the injured list with a sprained left ankle, scored six points with four assists and two steals but committed six turnovers in 16 minutes.

    Game notes

    Phoenix had its 10-game home winning streak snapped. ... With Johnson moving to starting point guard, Stoudemire moved from center to power forward and Jake Voskuhl got his first start of the season. ... The Grizzlies are 10-1 since they lost to the Suns 109-102 in Phoenix on Dec. 23. ... Stoudemire had just four points and two rebounds in 24 minutes through three quarters.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 88 79
    FGM-FGA 31-83 (.373) 28-84 (.333)
    3PM-3PA 6-22 (.273) 5-19 (.263)
    FTM-FTA 20-26 (.769) 18-22 (.818)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-52 15-49
    Assists 15 16
    Turnovers 11 14
    Steals 11 9
    Blocks 8 5
    Fast Break Points 22 18
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (1/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 11 8

    Top Performers

    Bonzi Wells Wells
    Points: 16
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Shawn Marion Marion
    Points: 18
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0