Memphis went 2–0 on a road back-to-back as they held off the Phoenix Suns 121-114 on Sunday night. The Grizzlies shot 54.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. Memphis also recorded a new single-season franchise record with 30 or more assists for the 14th time this season. The Grizzlies entered the night ranked second in the NBA in assists per game, behind only the Suns. Memphis won the assist battle against Phoenix 31-25.
Jonas Valanciunas was the high scorer for Memphis with 30 points, including 14 in the first quarter, when he finished with 5-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from three-point range. “I’m just trying to get some open buckets,” the seven-year center said about his big game. “We’re trying to execute, get some open shots. Spacing is a big key for me so yeah, I was just trying to find my role.”
Valanciunas added eight rebounds and four assists (12-16 FG, 3-4 3P). It was his seventh career 30-point game and his second this season.
Dillon Brooks scored 19 points to go with four rebounds and two assists on the night. Brooks went 5 of 11 from the 3-point line.
The Grizzlies shot 18-of-42 from three-point range, matching the 18 they made against the LA Clippers in a win on Saturday afternoon. It was the first time the Grizzlies have made at least 18 three-pointers in back-to-back games in franchise history.
Jaren Jackson Jr. added 15 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Ja Morant finished with 13 points and seven assists. The Grizzlies bench was led by Brandon Clarke and Solomon Hill, who both tallied 10 points. The Grizzlies’ reserves outscored the Suns second unit 41-25.
Phoenix was led by Devin Booker, who knocked down 40 points and added six assists and two rebounds. Booker became the first player in Suns history to post 30-or-more points in four consecutive games. Kelly Oubre Jr. notched a double-double for Phoenix with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. Deandre Ayton also recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Memphis is now 15–22 for the season and a half game back on the San Antonio Spurs for the eight spot in the Western Conference. Don’t look now, but the Grizzlies may very well be playing for playoff contention if they can keep putting things together.
Quotes from Taylor Jenkins
“Proud of the guys — tough start to the road trip, but to come away with back to back wins against good teams,” said the first year coach. “I’m impressed with our guys, really proud of the defensive activity, that’s the reason why we’re able to build these 20-point leads.”
Jenkins went on to say, “We've got to find ways to get better. Credit to our guys, it got a little scary there in the end, in the fourth, but we just find a way to execute against their pressure, come up with some big stops down the stretch. The unselfishness, which is what I keep continuing to talk about, 31 assists.”
“Obviously, guys are shooting the ball great but when the ball is moving around and we’re backing up our defensive activity with this great offensive play, it’s awesome,” Jenkins continued. “I told the guys we’ve just got to find ways to get better, especially when we build those leads, we know teams are going to give a great charge. Credit the Suns, they kept fighting. They’re a heck of a team, but I'm proud of our guys coming away with a big road win.”
Who got next
The Grizzlies will return home for a six-game home stand, on Tuesday January 7th to face the Minnesota Timberwolves inside FedExForum. Tip-Off at 7pm CST.