Going opposite directions, Grizzlies & Suns clash

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The Phoenix Suns will look to build on their most convincing victory of the season in Memphis on Saturday, while the Grizzlies will attempt to recover from their most decisive loss.

The Suns dominated long-time bully Golden State in a not-as-close-as-the-score-indicated 121-110 victory on Wednesday by applying the Warriors’ m.o. — moving the ball and hitting open shots. The Suns used a 30-1 run to build a 57-28 second-quarter lead and rolled to their second victory in the last 20 games of the series.

“The formula is there for us,” Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters afterward. “We’ve raised the bar.”

Memphis will begin a three-game homestand in its first game since a 120-91 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday, when Anthony Davis became the sixth player in Lakers history to have 40 points and 20 rebounds in the same game.

The Suns had a season-high 33 assists against the Warriors, their third game with at least 31, while using Williams’ “no-stick” offense in which players are encouraged to pass, dribble or shoot within five-tenths of a second.

“It’s nothing new,” Williams said of his emphasis on ball movement. “You watch the Spurs, Golden State, Atlanta when ‘Bud’ (coach Mike Budenholzer) had them. They played the same way. “

Suns players bought in early, Williams said, including star guard Devin Booker, who had 31 points and five assists against the Warriors on the night of his 23rd birthday. Booker also made six 3-pointers as the Suns went 15 of 36 from long distance. Williams recalled a conversation with Booker about the new offense during training camp.

“He remarked, ‘Coach I’ve always wanted to play like that,'” Williams said. “He’s done it. He doesn’t hold the ball. When he does, there is a purpose behind it. He’s smart. He understood. He has a high basketball IQ. He understands he needs other guys to play well to make it easier on him, if it is.”

Booker is averaging 24.4 points and 6.0 assists while making 41.9 percent of this 3-pointers, raising his effective field-goal percentage to 54.2. Although the sample size is miniscule, it’s the highest of his career.

The Suns entered Friday second in the league with 28.8 assists per game, and new point guard Ricky Rubio is tied for fourth with an 8.8 average.

The Suns are 3-2, their only losses by one point in overtime at Denver and one point at home to Utah two days before the Golden State game.

Memphis’ only victory in four games came on Jae Crowder’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime against Brooklyn last Sunday. The Grizzlies have lost by 19, eight and 29 points in coach Taylor Jenkins’ first season.

Rookie point guard Ja Morant, who had a season-high 30 points and nine assists against Brooklyn, had 16 points against the Lakers, three in the first half. He admitted having some sense of awe while facing players such as LeBron James and Davis in the early going.

“It was ‘wow’ moment coming in, but I was still trying to go out and play my game,” Morant said.

–Field Level Media

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