Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was back in his normal space – mind and body – on Tuesday (Dec. 2). He didn't have to carry the weight of the team.
"I thought Mike Conley didn't look as tired as he normally does because we put our bodies on people and got him open," said Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger.
"Then he can make plays. He's dropping it off. He got 14 assists. I can imagine a lot of those are to our bigs when they're rolling to the basket or punching it underneath the backboard."
Memphis' grit-and-grind defense was back in effect at FedExForum as the team snapped a four-game home losing streak. They came up big and clawed into a solid Phoenix Suns offense garnering a 110-91 win.
The Grizzlies had a solid first quarter (23-19), with all starters putting up points.
Conley finished with 18 points. Ed Davis started the game in place of Zach Randolph, who missed his second consecutive game due to a toe injury. His status is day to day. Davis racked up 21 points and 12 rebounds.
The Grizzlies outrebounded the Suns 43-41. They scored 56 points in the paint to the Suns' 36 and led by as many as 21. The biggest Suns lead was 10. There were six lead changes and the game was tied four times.
Jon Leuer led all scorers, coming off the bench with career-high 23 points and three blocks.
"Jon Leuer did a lot of good things besides just make shots," Joerger said. "He guarded pretty well."
Leuer played with confidence on offense showing off his spin moves and dunks before a crowd of 15,069.
"First couple of plays, getting in there and grabbing some rebounds and making my first couple of shots...from there confidence starts to build and from there on I was just feeling good," said Leuer.
Memphis came into the game as the only Western Conference team with a better road record than home record.
The Grizzlies went into the second half down by eight (54-46). The team battled back with a vengeance going on a 24-7 run that resulted in 36 points in the third quarter and a 82-74 lead heading into the final frame.
"Hopefully we just keep getting better as a team and each guy kind of flourishes in the minutes he gets to play, develops his game and develops in our system," Joerger said. "That way when those guys (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph) come back we'll be deeper. "
Marcus Morris led Phoenix coming off the bench with 18 points and scoring 13 in the second quarter.
"The second half was terrible," said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. "They scored 65 points in the second half. You're not going to beat anybody when you give up 65 points in a half."
Suns center Miles Plumlee said, "I think we got too relaxed, they turned it up, and that's what happens. They were too comfortable on the pick and rolls. (Mike) Conley was able to create a lot for his team."
Plumlee finished with 11 points.
NOTE: The Grizzlies will face the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday (Dec. 5) at FedExForum.