MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Suns seasonticket holders are renewing at a 96 percent rate, which is probably the league’s highest, club president Rick Welts said.
"I’m convinced 5 percent either move or die," Welts said. "We can’t do any better than that."
The Suns’ season-ticket base was down to about 9,500 this season, but with the renewals and deposits on 2,000 new season tickets, the Suns hope to get the total back up to more than 12,000, Welts said.
DALLAS OR HOUSTON?
The Suns now will play the winner of the Dallas-Houston series in Round 2.
The oddity of the Suns’ games against these teams is that in all seven games (they were 2-2 vs. Houston and 2-1 vs. Dallas) the road team won.
In preparing for the next series, the Suns plan to scrimmage Tuesday and Wednesday while taking today and Thursday off, coach Mike D’Antoni said. The next series isn’t expected to start at least until the weekend.
"We’ll try to use it to our advantage," he said of the break.
Steve Nash said, "The rest is nice. But we all feel pretty good.
"The most important thing is to stay ready. It’s going to be a fairly extended break."
The Suns had a 128-68 edge in free throws during the series, including a 49-16 bulge on Sunday.
D’Antoni pointed out that avoiding fouls is part of the Suns’ seasonlong strategy, that they committed fewer fouls than any NBA team in the regular season.
"We don’t foul," he said. "We practice and preach it.
"If the other team guards us aggressively — and sometimes they have to — they’re going to get more fouls."
Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello complained more about the two technical fouls on the Grizzlies.
James Posey was whistled for thrashing about on the floor after he was called for a foul and Stromile Swift for hanging on the rim after a dunk.
But even if the Suns were awarded five free throws too many, they would still have shot 44, Fratello pointed out.
"I’d be wrong if I said that was the difference," Fratello said of the free throw differential. "They have athletes who can put the ball on the floor."
The Grizzlies had to deal with a daylong distraction: Bonzi Wells, who has been seen as a disgruntled player this season, did not participate in the Sunday morning shootaround with the team, though he was in the building, Fratello said.
Afterward, "Bonzi and I decided the best thing for the team would be that he not be on the bench" during Sunday night’s game, Fratello said.
Asked if he’d ever dealt with such a distraction during a playoff series, Fratello said, "I don’t believe so. Most of the time the focus is on the opponents."
Wells will be a free agent this summer, and the Grizzlies aren’t believed to be interested in re-signing him.
The Wells situation is part of a larger issue for the Grizzlies. Their 10-deep bench helped them survive injuries and make the playoffs. But with everyone healthy, and with no need to use so many players in the postseason, the Grizzlies were perceived as an unhappy group.
At least they went down fighting, with Fratello saying, "I thought I saw a genuine, for the first time in a long time, pull for each other (attitude)."
Tickets for Games 1 and 2 in Round 2 now are on sale and are available at www.suns.com, by calling (800) 462-2849 and at all Ticketmaster outlets. . . . The Suns scored 100-plus in all four games. In the franchise’s previous 27 postseason games, they accomplished this only three times.