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Frank Vogel Did Not Sugarcoat Suns’ 121-115 Loss to Grizzlies

Everything was looking up for the Phoenix Suns entering last night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. They had just bounced back from a loss in a dominant fashion over the Miami Heat to get their fifth win in six games, and the team announced Kevin Durant would be available for the matchup just an hour before tip-off after he missed the last three games due to right hamstring soreness.

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Facing off against a Grizzlies team missing Ja Morant and in only the fourth full game played with the team’s Big 3, Phoenix got off to a hot start, then let Memphis back into it in the first half before ending the half strong. The Suns then came out of halftime looking to build off of this, going on a big 15-3 run late in the quarter to extend the lead to as much as 13. Everything collapsed in the fourth quarter, which fans have become accustomed to, as Memphis opened the quarter on a 14-1 run and ended up outscoring Phoenix 35-18 in the final period.

“It’s always disappointing (to lose) when you have a double-digit lead at any point in the fourth quarter,” Suns’ coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s disappointing, but we didn’t play well to win tonight, so we didn’t deserve that win, and we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”

Vogel detailed the Suns’ breakdown in the fourth quarter and why he decided to start Saben Lee, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant, Chimezie Metu and Keita Bates-Diop to being the final period.

“We anticipated them going to (Jaren) Jackson (Jr.) at the five at that point, so we wanted to have a better lineup and we weren’t in trouble with him,” Vogel said. “We had Josh Okogie in foul trouble, so we used Saben (Lee) some, we flipped Bradley’s (Beal) rotation to try and get a slow first half. He had a couple of buckets in the third quarter, so we flipped his and Grayson’s (Allen) rotation, leaving him in there a little long to try and get him into a rhythm. Typically, we would have Bradley and Kevin (Durant) in there at that point, so it was Grayson and KD, instead of Bradley and they went on a little run there.

“We didn’t play well enough for 48 minutes honestly. We started the game strong and came into half saying, ‘We didn’t play our best basketball, but we were happy to have a five-point lead.’ But we didn’t deserve the win tonight.”

Devin Booker led Phoenix with 24 points, eight assists and two steals, but only got up two shot attempts in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant had 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in his return. Jusuf Nurkić had a near 20-20 game with 18 points and 19 rebounds.

Vogel spoke on how Durant, who is listed as probable for tonight’s game vs. the Clippers, played last night.

“He battled. He fought through it,” Vogel said. “It’s always tough because you are trying to rehab and get healthy, but you can’t really get up and down and keep your legs under you, but I thought he scored the ball well and had a good game.”

The Grizzlies were led by Jaren Jackson Jr., who finished with 28 points and 10 assists. Marcus Smart controlled their pace of game and had 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds. One  glaring stat from Memphis was the fact that they shot 49 three-pointers (17-of-49) as a team.

“They shot 50 of them, so I can’t really evaluate all 50,” Vogel said. We want to take away the paint, whether Ja (Morant) is in or not, we want to take away the paint, but if you get The worst three-point shooting team in the league or whatever stat you throw out there, they made 23 against the Lakers last game, so teams goes through different phases of their season. They got more guys in than they’ve had, they’ve been injury riddled throughout the season; we know they’re capable, but they made 17 of them.”

The Suns now begin a three-game road trip tonight in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

Phoenix Suns fall to Memphis Grizzlies 121-115

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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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