Jonas Valanciunas had eight of his team-high 30 points in a third-quarter runaway Sunday night as the Memphis Grizzlies took a big lead and held off a frantic finish by Devin Booker for a 121-114 victory over the host Phoenix Suns.
Booker finished with 40 points, including 14 in the final 5:28, during which the Suns rallied from a 14-point deficit to get as close as 115-112 with still 52.6 seconds to play.
But De’Anthony Melton countered with two free throws with 36.3 seconds left, after which Ja Morant and Solomon Hill added a pair of foul shots apiece to seal the win for Memphis, which won at Phoenix for the second time this season.
The Suns led by as many as 11 in the first quarter, but found themselves down 62-57 at halftime before the Grizzlies spurted off to a 96-77 advantage by the end of the third period.
Jaren Jackson Jr. hit a pair of 3-pointers among eight points as he and Valanciunas combined for 16 of the Grizzlies’ 34 points in the period.
Memphis led 109-95 with 5:43 to go before Booker almost brought the Suns all the way back.
Valanciunas’ 30 points came on 12-for-16 shooting, as the Grizzlies shot 54.2 percent from the field. He also grabbed eight rebounds, tying Jackson for team-high honors.
Dillon Brooks finished with 19 points, while Jackson had 15, and Morant 13 to complement a team-high seven assists, and Hill and Brandon Clarke 10 points apiece.
Brooks nailed five 3-pointers for Memphis, which outscored Phoenix 54-18 from beyond the arc.
Booker made 13 of his 20 shots and 13 of his 14 free throws on his 40-point night.
Kelly Oubre Jr. (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Deandre Ayton (14 points, 12 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for the Suns, while Mikal Bridges put up 12 points and Ricky Rubio nine to go with a game-high eight assists.
The win allowed the Grizzlies (15-22) to pass the Suns (14-22) in the Western Conference standings.
The loss was just the Suns’ second in their last five games.
—Field Level Media