- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PHOENIX (AP) - Shaquille O’Neal hit four late field goals and rookie Robin Lopez tied his career high with 14 points, helping the Phoenix Suns beat the Memphis Grizzlies 119-110 Monday night for their eighth consecutive home victory.

In winning their 45th game of the season, the Suns became only the third team in NBA history to reach that total and not earn a playoff berth. They will finish their disappointing season Wednesday night at home against Golden State.

O’Neal led Phoenix’s well-balanced attack with 19 points. Hakim Warrick, who hit his first 10 field goal attempts, tying a franchise record for one game, and Rudy Gay led Memphis with 26 points each.

The Suns were clinging to a precarious 101-99 lead midway through the fourth period when O’Neal made two baby hooks. A short time later, he connected on an alley-oop, then completed his scoring with a layup after Jason Richardson hit a big 3-pointer with 1:11 remaining, giving the Suns a 114-107 lead.

Overall, the Suns had seven players in double figures. Steve Nash had 18 points and 12 assists, Richardson collected 18 points, Grant Hill scored 14, Matt Barnes 12 and Leandro Barbosa 10.

Marc Gasol added 13 points for Memphis, and Mike Conley Jr. scored 12 and tied a franchise record with seven steals.

The first half was close, with the Suns maintaining a 59-57 lead at the break thanks to 19 free throws to only eight for the Grizzlies. However, the Suns’ advantage could have been larger had they not missed eight foul shots to Memphis’ two misses.

Phoenix used 11 players in the half, and all of them scored, with Hill leading with 11 points, all in the first quarter.

Gay, O.J. Mayo and Warrick did the bulk of the Grizzlies’ scoring. Gay had 17 points, Mayo 11 and Warrick, who hit all six of his field goals, scored 14.

The Suns had the biggest lead of the half, nine points, 32-25, late in the first period, while Memphis never led by more than four.

Phoenix appeared to take control in the third period, building an 84-72 lead late in the quarter. But the tenacious Grizzlies battled back, cutting the deficit to 86-84 on a 3-pointer by Gay just before the quarter ended. During the comeback, Warrick scored six straight points _ two baskets and two free throws _ and remained perfect from the field (8-for-8).

With their second team on the floor, the Suns opened a 95-86 lead early in the fourth period, and again the Grizzlies rallied. They scored eight consecutive points _ four each by Warrick and Mike Conley Jr. before Phoenix took control.

NOTES:@ The Suns have scored at least 100 points in 25 consecutive home games, every game this calendar year. … The Grizzlies started three rookies _ Marc Gasol, Mayo and Darrell Arthur _ for the 56th time this season. … Gasol is on pace to break his brother Pau’s franchise record for field goal percentage by a rookie (.518 in 2001-02). … Nash is on the brink of becoming the first NBA player with three seasons in which he shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line (Larry Bird is the only other player to do it twice). … The Suns are on the verge of becoming the first NBA team since the Chicago Bulls in 1980-81 and 1981-82 to shoot 50 percent or better from the field in consecutive seasons. … O’Neal is on his way to leading the NBA in field goal percentage for the 10th time. … If Hill plays in Wednesday night’s season finale against Golden State, it would be the first time in his career he would have played in all 82 regular-season games.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide