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Suns Attacking Grizzlies Early, Lead 62-49 at Halftime

© Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns (9-6) went on a 14-0 run to end the second quarter to take a 62-49 lead over the Memphis Grizzlies (3-11) at halftime.

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The Suns are without Kevin Durant in this must-win game. Durant was a late scratch with right foot soreness, as Phoenix plays its final NBA In-Season Tournament game, likely needing a win by a decent margin. The Suns entered tonight on five-game win streak straight since the return of Devin Booker, while the Grizzlies are on a two-game losing streak and have a very bad injury bug.

The Grizzlies employed a zone defense in the first half, and the Suns found a lot of holes in it through good ball movement and great penetration.

Phoenix shot 17 free throws in the first half, and Eric Gordon was the main beneficiary of the fast ball movement, as he had 15 points and three triples.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 18 points, while the Suns shut Desmond Bane down, as he shot 0-for-4 from deep.

Phoenix is also missing Drew Eubanks (left ankle sprain) after he went down with the injury during Wednesday’s victory over the Warriors and did not return. Bradley Beal (low back strain), Yuta Watanabe (left quad contusion) and Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) remain out for the Suns.

The Grizzlies have seven players out: Ja Morant (league suspension), Steven Adams (right knee MCL surgery), Marcus Smart (left foot sprain), Brandon Clarke (left achilles tendon repair), Luke Kennard (left knee bone bruise), Xavier Tillman (left knee injury recovery) and Jake LaRavia (left eye abrasion).

In a battle of two banged-up teams, here’s how the first half action unfolded:


Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Keita Bates-Diop, Jusuf Nurkić

Memphis Grizzlies: Jacob Gilyard, Desmond Bane, Santi Aldama, Jaren Jackson Jr., Bismack Biyombo

First Quarter

In Durant’s absence, Booker took the first four shots for the Suns, connecting on only one.

The Grizzlies opened up a 6-2 lead with 9:46 left in the quarter.

Booker responded to this early deficit with a layup, and then Jaren Jackson Jr. extended the lead to five with a triple.

Without Durant, you would expect the suns offense to struggle, but it was their defense that was giving up a lot of open shots early. The Grizzlies led 13-8 with 6:52 to go in the quarter, as Booker subbed out, keeping up his same rotation pattern even without Durant.

The Suns did not falter without Booker, as Gordon cashed a three and then Josh Okogie had a nasty posterizing dunk.

Eventually, a Gordon layup tied the game at 15 with 4:47 remaining in the quarter.

The Suns called a timeout at the 2:57 mark after a dunk by former Sun Bismack Biyombo, as they trailed 22-19. Booker checked back in with a really small lineup out of the break

Jordan Goodwin, Booker, Okogie, Nassir Little and Chimezie Metu were all in at this point and closed out the quarter for Phoenix.

The Suns took their first lead of the game with 2:09 left, as Booker got a nice steal and layup in transition to make it 24-23 Phoenix. The game then went back and forth the rest of the quarter.

The Suns led 29-27 at the end of the first quarter.

Booker ended the quarter with a game-high nine points. Gordon (7 points) and Okogie (5 points, +7) were also big for Phoenix. Jusuf Nurkić had five rebounds in the quarter.

Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis with six points and five boards.

Second Quarter

Vince Williams gave the Grizzlies the lead back right away with a triple to start the second quarter.

The Suns continue to attack the paint against a Memphis zone defense, drawing a lot of fouls and connecting on easy shots. They opened an 7-0 run after this first Memphis bucket, as Booker had three of these points, while Grayson Allen had the remaining four. The Suns led 36-30 with 10:44 left in the half.

Phoenix continued to be aggressive offensively, and the Grizzlies continued to foul. Memphis had six team fouls with 8:12 remaining. Booker was subbed back out at this point with the Suns leading 38-34.

Phoenix did not stop driving and drawing fouls and was up 43-38 with 7:12 to go with eight of their 14 second-quarter points coming from the line.

The Grizzlies went on a 6-0 spurt to re-take the lead with 6:02 left in the half after a David Roddy and-one layup made it 44-43 Memphis.

Booker checked back in with 4:05 remaining with the Suns trailing 48-49.

Great ball movement and pressure defense kicked off a perfect end of the half for Phoenix.

The Suns had a 14-0 run after Booker checked back in to close the half. Booker had six of these points, all on pull-up jumpers.

Phoenix led 62-49 at the half.

UPDATE: Kevin Durant ruled out for Suns’ Game vs. Grizzlies

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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