PHOENIX – Another game, another bruise for Victoria’s Steve Nash.
At least he and the Phoenix Suns got a win this time.
Jared Dudley made two free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining to lift the Suns to an 86-84 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. Phoenix snapped a three-game losing streak overall and a three-game home losing streak.
The Grizzlies had a chance to win, but Mike Conley, coming off a screen by Marc Gasol at the top right of the arc, missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
“That was the only shot we could get,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “We were trying to go back door and see if we could get a layup out of it. It didn’t happen.”
Nash collided with Gasol on the play and limped off the court with a bruised left thigh. Nash, who missed a game with a bruised right thigh earlier this season, thinks he’ll be able to play Monday when the Suns play host to Dallas.
“It’s just frustrating,” Nash said. “Hopefully it will settle down by Monday. I’m optimistic I can play on Monday, but you never know.”
Dudley finished with a season-high 20 points, Nash added 21 and Marcin Gortat finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns.
“We’ve got to do what we can to try and win at home,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “We’ll continue to work and continue to try and get better. That’s the only thing you can do.”
Rudy Gay and Gasol had 18 points each and Conley added 15 for the Grizzlies, who have dropped three straight after a season-best seven-game winning streak.
“I think we are settling a little too much on the outside,” Conley said. “Especially when you are on the road, you need to be aggressive getting it into the paint, trying to get an inside out with the big man, and we settled too much tonight. We have to attack the rim and try to get easy buckets.”
Phoenix, which led by as many as 14 in the second half, was 8 for 8 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“We fouled them and couldn’t stop them,” Hollins said. “We battled and went zone to come all the way back and tie the score up a couple of times, but we just couldn’t get a stop to win the game.”
Dudley’s was a perfect 4 for 4 from the line.
“I hadn’t shot free throws like that since my BC (Boston College) days, when we played Syracuse and I was getting hacked,” Dudley said.
Dudley returned to the starting lineup on Saturday as Gentry went back to the starting five with which he began the season.
“Guys responded to it,” Dudley said. “I don’t know if I felt better, though I think I played better. I just want to know what my role is. I’m more comfortable with starting because I was expecting to start this year.”
The Suns took the lead for good midway through the first quarter and held a 63-56 advantage at the start of the fourth quarter. Memphis rallied to within two twice before finally tying the game 82-82 on a driving layup by Dante Cunningham with 1:24 to go.
“There’s no such thing as moral victories,” said Tony Allen, who finished with 10 points in 22 minutes. “We just have to figure out how to get it done down the stretch.”
Gortat missed a desperation 22-footer as the shot clock expired, and Cunningham couldn’t make a 20-footer on the other end. But on the rebound, Gasol hooked Dudley’s right arm for a loose-ball foul, setting up the decisive two free throws.
Nash, appearing in his 700th career game in a Suns uniform, entered the contest needed 13 assists to become the franchise’s career leader in the category but his scoring was needed more than his ball distribution.
Nash finished 8 of 14 from the field and added two of the Suns’ five three-pointers.
“It’s hard to pick rotations and hard to say a certain rotation is the reason we won,” Nash said. “We just have to keep believing in each other, playing hard and playing for each other.”
Notes: Gortat has 11 straight games with double-digit rebounds, the longest active streak in the NBA and the second-longest of the season. … Phoenix is 4-1 when Dudley scores 15 or more points. … Memphis finished its four-game road trip 1-4. … The Suns won at home for the first time since Jan. 8.