Phoenix, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Zach Randolph and Mike Miller both netted season highs with 32 and 21 points, respectively, and the Memphis Grizzlies clinched a postseason berth with a 97-91 win over the Suns, eliminating Phoenix from playoff contention.
The fourth quarter certainly had a playoff atmosphere. Both teams, desperate for a win, traded blows with big shot after big shot down the stretch while the refs let them play.
With the Grizzlies holding a one-point lead with just over two minutes to play, Eric Bledsoe and Mike Conley traded pull-up jumpers, Miles Plumlee tipped in Bledsoe's missed layup and Conley hit a 3-pointer to put Memphis in front, 93-91, with 1:08 remaining. Goran Dragic then got caught in the air on the game's decisive possession and threw the ball away, leading to Randolph's transition layup. Until then, the entire fourth quarter was played as a one- possession game.
Dragic then found himself wide open in the corner but airballed a 3-point attempt with 25.9 seconds to play that would have pulled Phoenix within one.
"We came up short," said Dragic. "We are headed in the right direction. Overall it was a great and fun year for us."
The Grizzlies made just 2-of-6 from the stripe in the final minute, but the Suns failed to capitalize.
There were 22 lead changes overall, with 14 of them coming in the fourth quarter.
Memphis hosts Dallas on Wednesday in the season finale for both teams. The winner of that clash will be the seventh seed in the West, while the loser will be the eighth seed and play the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs in the opening round.
Marc Gasol finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Conley scored 14 with seven assists in the Grizzlies' fourth straight win.
"For these guys, it's a happy locker room, a relieved locker room and just a bunch of very proud guys with great chemistry," said Memphis coach David Joerger.
Markieff Morris had 21 points off the bench for Phoenix, which lost its third straight contest. Dragic and Channing Frye scored 14 apiece.
"Our guys battled," said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. "They did the best they could. We were disappointed but all in all it was a good year."
The Suns never led in the first half but took their first lead of the game early in the third. Frye opened the period with a 3-pointer and Plumlee attacked Gasol, getting a sweeping hook to go to make it 47-46. Neither team led by more than six in the period.
Ish Smith took the ball from Gasol on a rebound late in the frame and converted a layup to tie it at 65-apiece, and Gerald Green made a pair of free throws with 5.5 seconds showing to put Phoenix back on top. The Suns' defense failed to hold the lead, however, as Tony Allen went coast-to-coast for a layup before the final buzzer to tie it after three and give the momentum back to Memphis.
The Grizzlies owned a pair of three-point leads early in the fourth and the Suns led by two on multiple occasions, but neither team gained any separation until Randolph's late layup.
Early on, Phoenix shot just 6-for-18 in the first quarter and trailed 24-14. It was 46-42 at intermission.
Memphis won the rebounding margin, 42-30, and outscored Phoenix 50-40 in the paint ... The Grizzlies swept the season series ... The Suns will finish with at least 47 wins and miss the postseason. Only four teams in NBA history had previously missed the postseason with 47-plus wins ... Phoenix will finish its season in Sacramento on Wednesday ... The Suns made just 5-of-26 from 3-point range. Miller made 5-of-6 for Memphis ... Bledsoe scored 13 points, and Plumlee had 12.