Memphis Grizzlies at Phoenix Suns: Game 19 Preview - Welcome to the Dryheat

Records: Memphis Grizzlies (10-8) at Phoenix Suns (6-12)

9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Line: Memphis by 4.0

Opponent Blog: Bright Side of the Sun

Injury Report: MEM: Randolph (knee) PHX: None

After losing a hard one in Los Angeles and being notorious in the sports world for hideous uniforms, the Grizzlies travel to Phoenix and hope to turn things around. The Grizzlies won 7 in a row from Jan 12 to Jan 23, but lost the last two in Portland and Los Angeles. Losing to Phoenix tonight would tie a season-worse 3 losses in a row.

The Phoenix suns are in the same boat - their goal tonight is to avoid their longest home-losing-streak in 8 years. The Suns have dropped 3 in a row at home and haven't suffered a longer slide at the Airways Center since March 6-19 in 2004.

More after the jump.

The Memphis Grizzlies have been playing bad basketball. When their seven-game winning streak was snapped in Portland on Tuesday, the team shot from the floor for a mere 37.8 percent. Not bad enough? The Grizzlies traveled to Los Angeles to play the Clippers and were able to claim only 35.7 percent from the field when the game was over.

Luckily, however, good things were able to come from that game. Rudy Gay continued reinforcing his star-season with 24 points and 7 boards. He also shot 3-of-5 from the arc. Gay leads the team averaging 18.7 points per game and is tied for third with 6.2 rebounds/game.

Tonight, couldn't be better suited for Rudy Gay - he's averaging 24.4 points in his past five meetings against the Suns and the Suns have lost 8-of-10 and have allowed opponents to average 99.0 points per game.

The Phoenix Suns are currently looking at a three-game losing streak, with the most recent loss coming in an ugly 109-71 loss at Portland. In the game, the Suns scored only 33 in the first-half and committed a horrendous 22 turnovers.

"The thing that was surprising was that I thought we kinda folded," Grant Hill of the Suns said. "We stopped competing there as soon as they came out and hit us hard."

Where is Steve Nash? The point-guard had only five points in 25 minutes Friday and missed 5-of-7 from the field. Although Nash has been stellar at home, where he's averaging 14.1 points and 11.0 assists, a better performance will be needed if they are to end the losing-streak.

With a tough schedule on the horizon (next 5: San Antonio, Denver, @ Atlanta, @ Oklahoma City, @ Boston), the Grizzlies need to pull out a win tonight in Phoenix. They are in luck if Phoenix continues the season-trend of poor defense and high turnovers. The Grizzlies have learned to capitalize on these team-weaknesses on teams in the past and expect to do the same.

Marc Gasol will hopefully continue to exceed and stretch his role for the team. On Friday, he had 18 points and 11 rebounds. He's having a career-high season averaging 14.9 points and 10.3 rebounds. With numbers like that, the highly-sought-after off-season contract signing of Gasol was beyond-crucial for Memphis.

Though Phoenix is by-no-means a pushover team, the win tonight will not come easy for the Grizzlies. Few games can be won with 35% shooting.

Final Prediction: Memphis 95, Phoenix 83

Saturday night game thread will be up and running at 9:00 PM. See you then.

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