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Grizzlies 102, Suns 91

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PHOENIX — Memphis guard Mike Conley scored 24 points added 11 assists and backcourt mate Courtney Lee returned from a concussion to add 23 points and four 3-pointers as the Grizzlies won their fifth straight game to start the season, a 102-91 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

Center Marc Gasol had 18 points and six assists and Zach Randolph added 10 points for Memphis, who swept all four games against Phoenix last year and handed the Suns their first home loss of the season with a typical grinding effort to improve on the best start in franchise history. Before this season, Memphis had only won their season opener twice (1995-96 and 2000-01) and had never won more than two in a row out of the blocks.

Guard Eric Bledsoe had 23 points to lead the Suns, but backcourt mate Goran Dragic continued his slow start with six points and a 3-for-9 shooting night. The Grizzlies came into the game ranked No.1 in defense allowing 85 points a game and wore down the high-scoring Suns. Phoenix shot 79 percent in a 27-point first quarter but Memphis kept coming and the Suns cooled off considerably.

Forward Markieff Morris had 20 points for Phoenix and guard Isaiah Thomas added 15 off the bench. Memphis matched the Suns in fastbreak points (15-15) and had a 9-8 advantage in 3-pointers, both areas the Suns had to win to beat the bigger, badder Grizzlies.

Bledsoe (14 points) and Markieff Morris (nine) were a combined 9-for-9 from the field and the Suns made 11 of 14 shots in the first quarter. But the Grizzlies used a balanced attack and a 16-6 run to stay close and the Suns led by only 27-24 after the first 12 minutes.

The Suns got nine points off the bench from guard Gerald Green early in the second quarter and some separation with a 10-2 run. They took a 43-32 lead on a steal and reverse layup by Thomas with 5:41 left in the half. But the Grizzlies answered with eight straight points of their own and a 3-point play by Conley cut the lead back to 43-40 less than two minutes later. Conley had 13 points in the half to lead his team.

Markieff Morris capped his 13-point half with two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to give the Suns a 52-46 edge at the half.

The Grizzlies used a 13-0 run early in a 30-point third quarter to vault back in the lead, with a reverse layup by Gasol giving Memphis a 64-59 edge with seven minutes left. The Suns took their final lead of the quarter at 66-65 on a Bledsoe layup with 5:49 left.

But Memphis went on another 9-1 run capped by a Lee 3-pointer to and took a 76-71 lead to the fourth quarter, and led by as many as 15 coming down the stretch.

NOTES: Memphis G Courtney Lee was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a concussion suffered Oct. 31 at Indiana. … Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek on the Grizzlies, who swept four game from the Suns last year and bumped them out of the playoffs in the 81st game of the season: “I wouldn’t be surprised if when the game ends, the team that comes out of the west could be this team.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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