The Suns -- the league's highest-scoring team -- outran the
Grizzlies in the second half as Amare Stoudemire scored a
season-high 42 points to lead Phoenix to a 137-122 victory over
Memphis on Monday night.
The Suns outscored the Grizzlies 76-72 on Monday night -- oh wait, that was the halftime score in what turned out to be a 137-122 Phoenix win. You have to go back more than 14 years to find the last NBA game in which each team scored 70 or more points in the first half: on Nov. 28, 1992, the Pacers outscored the Hornets in the first half 76-70 en route to a 134-122 win in Charlotte.
So that now makes 15 straight games in which Memphis has allowed 100 or more points (the last six games that Mike Fratello coached and all nine under his successor, Tony Barone). That's the longest such streak permitted by any NBA team since the Grizzlies themselves allowed triple-figure totals in 15 straight games while based in Vancouver in the winter of 1998.
"There's a lot that goes into it," Suns guard Steve Nash said
of the style. "If you want to play uptempo and take quick shots,
you've also got to play with a game plan. You have to have a
calculated effort at running and gunning and not just heaving the
Despite Memphis staying close through the first half, the Suns'
experience in the uptempo style finally paid dividends as the
Grizzlies tired down the stretch. It was the 10th straight win for
Phoenix, which shot 56 percent.
"We wanted to keep running," Stoudemire said. "Keep the tempo
up. We wanted to outrun guys, and that's what we did."
Memphis lost its third straight and has dropped five of its last
Raja Bell added 25 for the Suns, while Shawn Marion finished
with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Nash had 12 points and 15 assists.
"We can make you pay," Nash said. "If they want to collapse
on Amare, we've got lots of shooters. If they want to stay with the
shooters, Amare can dominate."
Mike Miller led Memphis with 25 points, and Pau Gasol added 23,
hitting all but one of his 11 shots from the field.
The run-and-gun style from both teams contributed to a combined
148 points in the first half, and both shooting above 58 percent
from the field in the first two quarters. The Suns led 76-72 at the
Memphis certainly played more inspired than its previous game
Saturday night. The Grizzlies' 72 points were more than they scored
the entire game in that 111-66 loss at Chicago.
But despite more enthusiasm, Memphis still hasn't learned to
combine defense with its new offense. Memphis coach Tony Barone put
his head in his hands, grimaced, even screamed at Gasol about
"Our defense needs to be somehow shored up," Barone said. "It
isn't good enough to just think you can run. If you're going to
play this style of basketball you have to play defense. You have to
get back and contest shooters."
Phoenix pulled away in the third period, as Stoudemire scored 16
of his points. That included 14 of the Suns' first 16 points in the
half to build the first double-digit lead.
Meanwhile, Memphis was contributing to the Suns' rally with 10
turnovers in the period.
"(Turnovers) come from fatigue," said Memphis guard Chucky
Atkins, who finished with 15 points. "Trying to play at such a
fast pace, you come out and get a little tired in the second half.
Being tired sometimes leads to turnovers."
And that was about the time, Phoenix displayed the difference in
a style played for several years rather than several weeks.
"We were in great condition down the stretch," said
Stoudemire, whose 42 points matched the season-high for a Suns'
player. "We caught our second wind in the third and fourth
quarters and that helped a lot. It's something we do all year long
and have for three or four years."
After the 45-point loss at Chicago, Barone started veteran
G Eddie Jones. "We had to do something after the last game,"
Barone said. Jones scored eight points in 19 minutes. ... The game
was part of the Grizzlies' fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Celebration. Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo and former Spurs star
David Robinson were honored with the second annual Sports Legacy
Awards as part of the day's ceremonies. Mutombo was unable to
attend because of the Rockets game with Dallas on Tuesday. ... Suns
-/F Kurt Thomas left the game in the first half with a
hyperextended left elbow and did not return. ... The 76 first-half
points for Phoenix was its biggest output in any half this season.