Recap: Depleted Suns boatrace high and mighty Grizzlies, 125-108

The fourth quarter was all but a formality as the Phoenix Suns blew out the Memphis Grizzlies on their home floor, 125-108. Two-way contract guard Duane Washington Jr. scored a career-high 26 points while adding eight assists in the absence of three of the squad’s best guards.

After Phoenix gave up an early 8-0 start by Memphis, they went on a 20-5 run that gave them enough of a cushion to enter the second quarter with a 23-22 lead. Mikal Bridges led the way with seven points for the Suns while each of the active point guards — Chris Paul and Duane Washington Jr. — racked up a couple assists.

There was an element of the Suns finding a new offensive identity in this one, which comes at the perfect time since Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins mentioned before this game that they had “figured out” the Booker-less Suns offense.

Part of that newfound identity included being the aggressors from three. Phoenix (10-19, 52.6%) outshot Memphis (3-13, 23.1%) with the expected volumes flip-flopped. Helped by making their final 11 shots of the half, the Suns rode a 65-49 lead into the break.

Dillon Brooks, who was looking forward to this matchup but less so without Booker, had a no-good very-bad first half, shooting just 2-7 from the floor with three personal fouls. Ja Morant finished his half with 10 points and six assists, although he struggled from the floor, hitting just one of his eight attempts.

A lot of the credit for the extended lead in the first half goes to the bench folks, so it only makes sense that when those folks weren’t on the floor to start the second half plus the Grizzlies started to benefit from the whistle even more , they inched back closer to the Suns, forcing a Monty Williams timeout after about five minutes when they had cut the lead to 11.

The whistle continued to be a problem throughout the third as Morant started to heat up and get the FedEx Forum crowd back involved. Right as it seemed like the lead was in jeopardy, nine quick points from Duane Washington Jr. — up to 22 on the night — down the stretch of the third helped to ease the nerves of Suns fans as they entered the fourth up 97-80 .

After knocking knees with Brooks in the third, Paul returned to the Suns bench with a big ol’ ice pack on his leg, which could bode poorly for the back-to-back in Washington on Wednesday, but luckily the Suns have a Washington of their own who looks more than ready to rise to the occasion if need be.

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