Marc-Gasol-15-04-2014The Phoenix Suns enjoyed a terrific turnaround season in 2013-14, yet have come up short of the playoffs.

The Memphis Grizzlies beat the team from the desert on Monday night, 97-91, to clinch the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference postseason.

Spain’s Marc Gasol, who missed a long stretch of the 2013-14 campaign through injury, had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Griz while Slovenia’s Goran Dragic had five steals to go with his 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Memphis improved to 49-32 with the victory while Phoenix, who went 25-57 one year ago, dropped to 47-34.

Each team has one game remaining.

When Gasol suffered a knee injury earlier this season, Memphis had to play without their top defensive player and an all-round threat on offense.

The club won just 10 of its 23 games and fell out of the play-off places.

The Suns, meanwhile, surged into contention and looked good bets to reach the playoffs for much of the campaign.

Dragic averaged more than 20 points and almost six assists this season.

The Suns play away to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in their finale and then Dragic will take some time off before linking up with Slovenia’s national team for the FIBA Basketball World Cup preparations.

The Slovenians will take on Lithuania, Angola, Mexico, Korea and Australia in Group D in Gran Canaria.

They will also have a glitzy final warm-up game against the USA on 26 August in Las Palmas.

Gasol, meanwhile, and the Grizzlies will soon embark on what they hope will be a deep run into the playoffs.

First up will be Western Conference leaders San Antonio Spurs, who will own the NBA’s best record heading into the postseason.

With one game remaining, the Spurs have 62 wins and 19 defeats.

Both Gasol and Dragic were all-tournament selections at last year’s EuroBasket in Slovenia.


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