(Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Suns decided to make their game against the Memphis Grizzlies a little more interesting on Tuesday by sitting out Steve Nash because of back spasms and leaving Goran Dragic at home with flu-like symptoms.  Amar’e Stoudemire followed that up by getting ejected from the game with two quick technical fouls in the second quarter.  That left Phoenix with only nine players to go against OJ Mayo, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and the rest of the Memphis team.

But Leandro Barbosa stepped up his game by scoring 28 points on 10-18 shooting and Shaquille O’Neal not only scored 24 points on eight of 13 shots but also passed Oscar Robertson to move into the 8th spot on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.  Add to that Shaq’s eight of 10 shooting at the free throw line and it was just too much for the Grizzlies to handle.

The Grizzlies had the lead for most of the game but Phoenix stepped up their defense in the 4th quarter and held the entire Memphis team to only 11 points.  That brought the Suns from an eight point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to a 12 point lead at the end of the game.

The Grizzlies’ Hakim Warrick scored 25 points in the game by shooting 64 percent from the field but the rest of the Memphis team only shot 34 percent – including OJ Mayo’s 20 percent on four of 20 shooting.

Overall, this wasn’t a pretty game by any means.  At times, it appeared the Suns were playing street ball and that no plays were ever being run.  But at other times it seemed like things started clicking for Phoenix.  And when that happened, the team looked like they were enjoying playing basketball.  Smiles were actually seen on the bench when the game was nearly over.  And players seemed to be talking to each other more than they have in the past.

The main thing is that the Suns got a W and are now two games out of second place in the Western Conference.  The next game the Suns play is on Friday against the LA Clippers.  Hopefully, Steve Nash will be back, Amare will keep his temper under control and the Suns will have a full team to continue their winning streak in the new year.

To all of the blog readers, Happy New Year!  And may all of your hopes for the new year come to pass (especially a Suns championship)!

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