The Grizzlies MLK Day matchup against the Suns was almost over before it even started. A little less than 24-hours prior to tipoff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday night matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed due to the Sixers Saturday night game against the Grizzlies.
Shortly after, the Grizzlies revealed Jonas Valanciunas was out for tonight’s game due to Health and Safety Protocols. There were plenty of conversations between the NBA, Grizzlies and Suns throughout Sunday night into Monday but ultimately the teams were given the green light to proceed with their game as planned.
With the game ready to go, the Grizzlies were looking to extend their winning streak to 5 games, while the Suns were probably just happy to be playing after having 3 games postponed the past 7 days due to COVID issues with the team.
One would expect the team that hasn’t played all week to come out rusty, but it was instead the Grizzlies who started out slow to start the game, shooting 8-23 in the first period. The Suns defense smothered the Grizzlies while also starting off the game hot from deep shooting 5-10 in the quarter, compared to the Grizzlies 1-7 shooting from beyond the arc. The three-point shooting was probably the biggest difference in the opening period as they Suns led 24-18 after one.
The Grizzlies offense got in a much better flow in the second quarter, sparked initially by Ja Morant who scored 8 points in the first 4 minutes of the quarter. Once Ja took a seat, it was the Grizzlies bench led by Gorgui Dieng who helped the Grizzlies take a lead late in the quarter. The Grizzlies were able to hang on and take a 52-48 lead into the halftime break.
The Suns got hot again from deep in the 3rd quarter, and used the hot shooting to get back into the game. The hot shooting, combined with a hot stretch from Deandre Ayton let the Suns come back and tie it after the Grizzlies led by as many as 8. The Grizzlies were able to respond, however, and went into the 4th quarter with the slim 77-75 lead.
Chris Paul took over in the early stages of the 4th quarter to give the Suns a two possession lead. The Grizzlies made a run with CP3 on the bench to retake the lead, but a few bad possessions and the Grizzlies found themselves down 6 once again late in the quarter. That didn’t stop the Grizzlies from fighting though, as they were able to come back and take a late 3-point lead following a Grayson Allen 3-pointer with just over a minute left in the game.
The Suns responded with a Ayton outback slam and that’s when Ja Morant took over. Ja hit a tough layup past Deandre Ayton to extend the Grizzlies lead back up to 3 and then drew a charge on Chris Paul the following possession. Grayson Allen knocked down 2 free throws, but a Mikal Bridges corner 3 gave the Suns life with 11 seconds left. Allen continued his clutch play knocking down 2 more free throws with 8 seconds left to put the hammer in the Suns coffin. A few more late free throws and the Grizzlies were able to come away with the 108-104 victory over the Suns.
The win was the 5th in a row for the Grizzlies and a big one against a mostly healthy Suns team. The Grizzlies will be back in action on Wednesday when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers.