The Memphis Grizzlies will try to play better basketball starting Sunday night when they visit the US Airways Center to take on the Phoenix Suns.
The Grizzlies have lost two of their last three and four of their last six. The most recent setback came at home Friday night when they lost a heartbreaker, 86-84, to Portland.
Without star forward Zach Randolph, who missed the contest with flu-like symptoms, Memphis shot only 39.5 percent from the floor. Randolph's replacement in the starting lineup, Marreese Speights, established a season- high with 23 points. He also grabbed 13 rebounds.
Rudy Gay had 19 for the Grizzlies and Marc Gasol netted 12 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a whopping eight blocked shots.
The backcourt didn't do much. Mike Conley and Tony Allen combined for 10 points on 4-for-17 shooting, and four assists.
"If you can't make buckets, you can't score," said Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. "We got shots. We got to the basket. We did things that we've been trying to do. We just didn't make anything. That happens sometimes. Struggles are struggles."
The Suns are struggling badly. They've dropped seven of their last eight, including a home loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday night. If it weren't for the road-weary Philadelphia 76ers, the Suns wouldn't have won since Dec. 19.
The Suns allowed the Jazz 60 points in the paint on Friday and only managed nine points themselves in the second quarter. In the last three frames, Utah outscored Phoenix, 62-49.
"I thought the last three quarters were just the worst we could have possibly played," said head coach Alvin Gentry, who wasn't afraid to mince his words. "The second quarter was as poorly as we've played all season. The last two quarters I didn't think we did anything in those two quarters, too. It was just one of those games where it was just a disaster, really."
Marcin Gortat led the way for Phoenix with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Goran Dragic chipped in 17, Jared Dudley 16 and Luis Scola 15. But the Suns shot 26.7 percent from the 3-point line and committed 21 turnovers.
"We had a lot of turnovers, including myself," said Dudley, who led the way with six turnovers. "I turned the ball over way too much out there trying to play a little too much and getting a lot of character, but that happens sometimes."
After Sunday's tilt with Grizzlies, the Suns go back east for four games against the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.
The Grizzlies and Suns have split two games this season, with each team winning on its home floor. Memphis is 2-11 in its last 13 games in Phoenix.