We witnessed a fantastic spectacle on Monday as the Phoenix Suns took on the Memphis Grizzlies in their Footprint Center. It was Ja Morant’s third game after his return from his severe knee injury. Phoenix Suns were also ready on almost 100% for the game as only Deandre Ayton has been missing for them. This surely promised to be an electrifying fixture.
It all started well for the Grizzlies who took an 11-point lead in the first quarter, 6-17. The Suns managed to reduce this deficit to just a single point towards the end of the part. The second quarter also began in Memphis’ favor, but with the slight difference that they found a way to keep that advantage. Both teams entered the 15-minute halftime break with the Grizzlies leading 48-60.
The third quarter showed consistency as the game was bucket for bucket. The difference didn’t go beyond 18 points, but it didn’t drop below 10 points as well. Therefore, the Grizzlies were just 12 minutes away from taking out yet another one of the top teams in the NBA.
An 11-0 run for the Suns in the early minutes of the last quarter reduce their deficit to 3 points. However, the Grizzlies found a way to build a fast 8-point lead and with just under a minute remaining in the game, they were ahead by 5 points. Two unpleasant turnovers gave the Suns a chance at winning the match and Devin Booker took the responsibility. He made a pullup jump shot from the 3-point line, thus giving his team the lead, 112-113. Just like that, the crowd at Footprint Center could once again dream of getting the much-desired win. However, Ja Morant had other plans and with just 0.5s left on the clock, he sank a driving layup to give his team the victory, 114-113.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 28, 2021
Ja Morant finished off the match with 33 points, 15 of which were scored in the third quarter. He proved to be clinical for his team in the most clutch moments, going on 56% shooting. Desmond Bane tallied with 32 points on a 6-11 shooting from beyond the arc. Steven Adams also did an amazing job as he was the main reason for many of Ja Morant’s successful drives towards the basket.
Devin Booker dropped 30 points for the Suns and added 2 steals and 2 blocks in defense. Unfortunately, Chris Paul went for 4-13 from the field and 0-3 from the 3-point line which came in decisive in the end. Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson were also kept under 50%.
This was the second consecutive loss for the Suns as they also lost to the Warriors on Christmas Day. This didn’t change much for them in terms of the overall standings. They continue to be in second place in the Western Conference with 26 wins and 7 losses. The Suns will end the year with two more games as they host the OKC Thunder and then, travel to Boston.
The Memphis Grizzlies continue their march in the West with a second straight win. What is more important for them is the fact that Ja Morant is feeling well and he is ready to lead his team. They are 4th with a 21-14 record closing the gap between themselves and the top 3. The Grizzlies will wrap up the calendar year with two home games as they will take one the LA Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.