Published November 20, 2014
Playoff implications will be prevalent in Wednesday's matchup between two streaking teams, the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns.
The Grizzlies have risen to the fifth spot in the jumbled Western Conference while Phoenix, although still on the outside looking in at No. 9, has been charging hard since the All-Star break.
Memphis won its third straight game on Monday when All-Star Marc Gasol scored 18 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out seven assists as the Grizzlies withstood a late push by the Los Angeles Clippers to escape with a 94-85 victory at FedExForum.
Rudy Gay added 16 points while Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo contributed 13 apiece for the Grizzlies, who are fifth in the West, just one-half game behind the LA Clippers in the race for home-court advantage in the first round.
"Everybody here is hungry and wants to be a part of the playoffs once more," said Gay.
Memphis guard Tony Allen, one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, has missed the entire winning streak with a lacerated lip and remains doubtful for tonight.
The Suns, meanwhile, kept the pressure on in a tight playoff race on Monday when Markieff Morris led five players in double figures with 21 points and six rebounds as Phoenix opened a tough four-game road trip by routing the Minnesota Timberwolves, 114-90, at Target Center.
Shannon Brown finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, Steve Nash added 14 points and five assists, Sebastian Telfair donated 14 points and seven assists, and Michael Redd rounded out the double-figure scorers in the Suns' fifth win in their last six games with 13 points.
"I thought Markieff (Morris) had his best game, as far as activity and rebounding the basketball and making plays" Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry said.
The Suns, who will also visit Houston and San Antonio on their trek, are just a game behind Dallas and Denver for the final two postseason spots in the West.
Phoenix was near the bottom of the West on Feb. 18 but has gone 17-8 since to creep back into the postseason conversation.
Memphis has already dropped two meetings to the Suns in 2011-12 and is looking to avoid being swept in the season series for the first time since 2007-08.