Preview: Phoenix Suns (16-32) at Memphis Grizzlies (30-16)

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Time: 6 p.m. MST


Records thrown out the window, the Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies tend to put on pretty good shows.

The Suns have lost by double-digits twice at the hands of Lionel Hollins’ team this season, but one of those came in overtime and needed Zach Randolph to pour in 38 points. A third game this year saw Phoenix pull off a 82-80 victory.

It was the type of game that a talent-lacking squad led by Lindsey Hunter could use as a framework for that winning culture, although in second-to-last place in the Western Conference, it’ll be more of a foundation – OK, it’s probably more of the leveling of the dirt for the foundation. Phoenix will again face the Grizzlies on Tuesday, this time in the FedExForum against a new-look team.

Memphis is just a game into the post-Rudy Gay era as far as its full roster goes. And the Grizzlies have already been given a good reason to feel better that the trade wasn’t simply a cost-cutting move.

Former Detroit Piston forward Tayshaun Prince made his debut on Friday in a 85-76 win against the Washington Wizards, scoring eight clutch points in the fourth quarter and coming off the bench to score 14 total. It’s quite possible Prince, after a gap between games, will enter the starting lineup for the first time in Memphis as the Grizzlies face the Suns. He would likely replace backup point guard Jerryd Bayless, who was starting in the backcourt with Mike Conley.

As usual, the Suns could use a heavy dose of Luis Scola in this game. And it’s good news for the Suns that they’re hitting the Grizzlies with Zach Randolph in a big-time slump. The All-Star has combined for just 20 points in the last three games, but he’s making no excuses for the issues that could stem from a lingering back injury, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

In what has sometimes been a surprisingly even series this season, the Memphis perspective could perhaps determine if the loss of Gay – he has taught Suns forward P.J. Tucker the widely-known lesson of great offense beating great defense – will be a noticeable factor in close-game situations.

Marcin Gortat misses Steve Nash

An interview with HoopsWorld gave Marcin Gortat a chance to discuss the Suns’ woes, and within it there are a few odd discrepancies. One thing that is pretty clear is Gortat misses Steve Nash. The Polish big man was adamant at media day that he would prove to be just as productive following Nash’s departure, but with his numbers taking large hits this season, he’s finally come to realize that life is more difficult without Two-Time.

“I don’t think that’s a problem with Coach right now,” Gortat told HoopsWorld, going on to say the players on the roster are what they are, hinting they can’t necessarily change. “It’s much harder for guys to get an open shot (this year without Nash), an open look and each one of us has to work for every point twice as hard.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily all about Coach, there’s a lot of things going on that influences my performance, so it’s hard to say.”

Of course, a follow-up question asks Gortat if he believes point guard Goran Dragic can go from an attack-first point guard to more of a distributor. Gortat’s answer sort of goes into confusing territory, and it becomes unclear if he criticizing Dragic, coaches or simply the roster as a whole.

“He’s got to work on it,” Gortat told HoopsWorld of Dragic. “It all depends on the coaches, they got to put on the pressure, they got to do what they got to do, they got to talk to him. It’s not me or anybody on the team, each one of us is trying to play basketball and he plays basketball the way he plays, he does what he does the best. He’s an aggressive scoring point guard and it is what it is, I can’t deny it.”

All in all, the interview sort of feels like Gortat is frustrated — that’s not surprising — but it’s hard to point to what exactly he’s frustrated about. It gives off a sense of hopelessness because of what we all probably know. The Suns’ roster isn’t very good, and there’s not much any player or coach can do when that’s the case.

For more context, there is a video of interview on the HoopsWorld page.

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