Memphis native Cameron Payne, the former Lausanne Collegiate School standout, rockets past the Grizzlies defense to the hoop. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

The Phoenix Suns flowed into FedExForum among the hottest teams in the NBA, having reeled off six straight wins after a slow start. The Grizzlies – losers against the Charlotte Hornets in their last game – fell hard (119-94) to the Suns on Friday night.

The Suns’ Chris Paul was dominant against the Grizzlies, scoring 15 points, dishing 12 assists and grabbing four rebounds. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

Pregame it appeared Memphis might have caught a break when it was announced that center Deandre Ayton and his rim-protecting force would not be available for the NBA finalists Suns.

It didn’t work out that way.

The Suns (8-3) relied upon their outside shooting, hitting on 18 of 37 (48.6 percent) shots from deep. The Grizzlies shot 21.2 percent (7/33) from beyond the arc.

The Suns grabbed the lead and never gave it up, leading 36-23 at the end of the first quarter.

A 6-0 run by a determined Ja Morant helped cut into the deficit, but a three pointer by the Sun’s soaring star Devin Booker just added salt to Memphis’ wound. The Suns outscored Memphis 26-20 in the second quarter, taking a 62-43-point lead into the locker room after Memphis had been down by as many as 23 points.

Devin Booker gets through the Memphis defense for two of his 17 points. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

The second half brought more – and more – of the same. The Grizzlies would miss a shot; the Suns would make a shot. With 6:28 left in the third quarter, the Grizzlies trailed by 30 (79-49). Memphis was shooting 19 percent from 3-point range; the Suns countered with 48 percent.

Memphis (6-6) got no closer than 20 points in the final quarter and emptied the bench with a little less than eight minutes to play. Morant led the way with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. Jaren Jackson Jr. (19 points) was only other Grizzlies player in double digits.

The Suns had seven players with double-figures scoring. They connected on 18 of their 3-pointers, with Booker and former Grizzlies player Jae Crowder each totaling 17 points. Crowder hit five times from long range.

The blowout was one of several the Grizzlies have absorbed among their six defeats. Asked about the blowout losses, Morant said, “We didn’t come to play. Teams came to play. We got going, then they got a big lead and beat us by a lot.”

Ja Morant goes in for a dunk. He had 26 points. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

Desmond Bane, who had 9 points and 8 rebounds, said the blowout losses reflect a “lack of discipline. It showed in the games we have lost. Whether it is has been coverages, schemes or game plan. When we are not making shots on the offense end, those things usually start to magnify.”

The game featured the return of Memphis native Cameron Payne, the former Lausanne Collegiate School standout, who played at Murray State University. Payne was out of the league a couple of years ago but has flourished since Suns coach Monty Williams, who had coached him in Oklahoma City, gave him a shot in Phoenix.

A key player in the Suns’ run to the NBA Championship series last season, Payne is averaging 10.2 points a game. He had 10 points in the win over the Grizzlies.


The Grizzlies travel to New Orleans to play the one-win Pelicans on Saturday (Nov. 13). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.