Phoenix Suns vs. Memphis Grizzlies Pick & Prediction JANUARY 7th 2024

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The Phoenix Suns look to stay hot in Sunday’s finale of a six-game homestand when they welcome the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, who are on the second date of a three-game road swing.

Memphis opened its trip on Friday with a 127-113 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Grizzlies held the Lakers to just 19 fourth-quarter points, while Desmond Bane and Ziaire Williams combined to score more in the period with 10 each than the entire Los Angeles roster.

Bane and Williams contributed to a 33-point final quarter, and Memphis produced its highest single-game point total of the season.

Four Grizzlies scored at least 21 points: Ja Morant with 21; Bane with 24 and 5-of-8 3-point shooting; Marcus Smart with 29 points and 8-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc; and Jaren Jackson Jr. with 31.

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins credited unselfish offense for the Grizzlies’ production following the win.

“Thirty-three assists on 44 made baskets: That’s Grizzlies basketball, right there,” Jenkins said in his postgame press conference. “Our guys trusted the pass, knowing that was going to be the recipe tonight.”

The Grizzlies came into Friday’s contest ranked last in the NBA in scoring offense at 106.9 points per game and No. 27 in assists per game at 24. They improved those averages to 107.4 and 24.3 after the win.

Memphis also improved to 6-4 since Dec. 19 when Morant rejoined the lineup from a 25-game suspension — 6-3 in the nine games in which Morant played. Over those nine contests in which Morant is averaging 25.1 points and 8.1 assists per game, the Grizzlies have scored 112.7 points per contest.

Morant is questionable for Sunday’s game due to right shoulder soreness.

Memphis’ worst scoring performance of the campaign came against Phoenix, its opponent this Sunday, in a 110-89 loss on Nov. 24. Until Monday, when the Suns beat Portland 109-88, their defeat of the Grizzlies had been their lowest scoring allowance of the season.

Phoenix’s rout of Portland capped a four-game winning streak before a 131-122 loss on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Suns’ lone blemish of their current homestand.

They regrouped on Friday with a 113-97 win over the Miami Heat despite playing without star Kevin Durant for the third consecutive game. Durant, whose average of 29.9 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, has been sidelined with a right hamstring strain and is listed as questionable for Sunday.

Teammate Devin Booker told reporters before Wednesday’s game that Durant will “never say it, but I think he needs a couple of games (off).”

“He’s had a lot on his plate this season with me and (Bradley Beal) out,” Booker said.

Phoenix has had the trio of marquee offseason acquisition Beal, Booker and Durant together for only four games this season. However, Suns coach Frank Vogel said in Friday’s postgame press conference “the trust is building” within the roster.

“Offensively, the trust and trying to get the right guys the right shots (has been a point of emphasis). More shots for our laser 3-point shooters. … Brad and Book got some, and then those guys rewarding it back,” Vogel said. “Thirty assists (as a team), Book and Brad with 19 assists between the two of them.”

Beal posted 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds on Friday, while Booker finished with 20 points and 10 assists.

Grayson Allen led the Suns with 31 points and shot 9-of-14 from 3-point range. The nine 3s matched the franchise record.

–Field Level Media

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