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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsjared dudley on suns' loss, late defense | 1:31

suns forward jared dudley discusses jrue holiday's performance, the suns' defense late in the game and the bench's approach. doug haller/azcentral sports

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsdevin booker on suns loss to bucks | 1:22

suns second-year guard devin booker discusses phoenix's home loss to the bucks and his scoring burst in the second quarter on urday. doug haller/azcentral sports

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportseric bledsoe on suns' loss to clippers | 0:42

suns guard eric bledsoe reacts to a 124-114 loss to the clippers.

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsmarquese chriss on suns loss to memphis | 0:45

rookie marquese chriss discusses eric bledsoe's performance and how the team will handle the four-game losing streak after monday's loss. doug haller/azcentral sports

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsdevin booker on suns loss to nuggets | 0:38

suns guard devin booker discusses urday night's loss to the nuggets.

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsphoenix suns' jared dudley on loss to nuggets | 1:24

suns' jared dudley talks about a loss to the denver nuggets, jan. 26, 2017. (doug haller/azcentral sports)

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsnba sneakerhead p.j. tucker ranks his all-time top five shoes | 1:09

phoenix suns forward p.j. tucker owns over 2200 pairs of sneakers, and ranked his top five all-time for the crossover. time_sports

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportslebron james frustrated with team's roster | 0:36

cleveland cavaliers forward lebron james says he hopes the team makes moves for the stretch run of the season because he doesn't think the current roster is good enough to compete for another championship. time_sports

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportssuns' devin booker on loss to timberwolves | 1:36

phoenix suns' devin booker talks about the team's loss to the minnesota timberwolves, jan. 24, 2016. (doug haller/azcentral sports)

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsnba's three most underrated players | 1:46

former nba player eddie johnson gives us his top three most underrated players. usa today sports

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sports2017 nba all-star game uniforms revealed | 0:49

the nba is keeping it simple for its all-star game uniforms this year in new orleans. time_sports

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportsalan williams watching his mother's police chief ceremony | 1:04

phoenix suns center alan williams watches his mother, jeri williams, sworn in as phoenix police chief in chesapeake energy arena. (paul coro/azcentral sports)

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watch the latest suns and nba videos from azcentral sportssuns 'embrace youth' in wearephx 'momentum' video | 2:55

hosted by head coach earl watson, who says the suns "embrace and celebrate our youth." video: phoenix suns

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  • jared dudley on suns' loss, late defense

    jared dudley on suns' loss, late defense

  • devin booker on suns loss to bucks

    devin booker on suns loss to bucks

  • eric bledsoe on suns' loss to clippers

    eric bledsoe on suns' loss to clippers

  • marquese chriss on suns loss to memphis

    marquese chriss on suns loss to memphis

  • devin booker on suns loss to nuggets

    devin booker on suns loss to nuggets

  • phoenix suns' jared dudley on loss to nuggets

    phoenix suns' jared dudley on loss to nuggets

  • nba sneakerhead p.j. tucker ranks his all-time top five shoes

    nba sneakerhead p.j. tucker ranks his all-time top five shoes

  • lebron james frustrated with team's roster

    lebron james frustrated with team's roster

  • suns' devin booker on loss to timberwolves

    suns' devin booker on loss to timberwolves

  • nba's three most underrated players

    nba's three most underrated players

  • 2017 nba all-star game uniforms revealed

    2017 nba all-star game uniforms revealed

  • alan williams watching his mother's police chief ceremony

    alan williams watching his mother's police chief ceremony

  • suns 'embrace youth' in wearephx 'momentum' video

    suns 'embrace youth' in wearephx 'momentum' video

636220952079413511-allen.jpg

phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) shoots over memphis grizzlies guard tony allen (9) during the second half of an nba basketball game, monday, jan. 30, 2017, in phoenix.(p o: matt york/ap)

memphis – devin booker isn’t sure how it happens. it just does. play basketball long enough, shooters find a groove, enter the zone. the best way the suns guard can describe it: “supreme confidence.”

after watching booker score 27 points in a little more than seven minutes last week against milwaukee, coach earl watson said coaching never had felt so easy. “it’s like cheating,’’ he said. “like having a cheat code to a video game.”

during his 13-year nba career, watson said he played with only two players capable of catching fire the way booker did that night: ray allen and kevin durant. “only an elite player can do that,” watson said.

here in west tennessee, tony allen no doubt has noticed.

allen, 35, is a 6-4 guard for the memphis grizzlies. you can measure his skills by his inclusion on five nba all-defensive teams. or you can measure him through the words of kobe bryant, who once called allen the best defender he faced over his 20-year career.

related: holiday, davis lead pelicans over suns

on wednesday night, booker likely will square off against allen, the up-and-coming scorer against the physical, defensive vet. to watson, these kinds of tests can accelerate booker’s growth, perhaps increasing the frequency of those elite moments. to booker, it’s a challenge, but he’s not sure allen sees it the same way.

“he probably looks at me like nothing," the second-year guard said. “he’s guarded kobe bryant. he’s guarded everybody. he has a lot more experience, and the referees know it, too. he can be more physical with you. when you’re known as a defender like that, you get away with a lot, but he’s earned that right.”

three things you should know about allen:

he was a scorer first: at oklahoma state, allen’s main role was to score. in his first year out of junior college, he averaged 14.4 points, hitting 39.5 percent of his 3-point attempts. his senior season, he put up 16 points per game, earning big 12 player of the year honors and leading coach eddie sutton’s cowboys to the 2004 final four.

“he could really put that thing in the hole the way we used him," said glynn cyprien, a former oklahoma state istant who recruited allen. “we posted him up. he was a great driver. he played with great physicality on the offensive end.”

and yet, after the boston celtics selected allen with the 25th overall pick of the 2004 draft, cyprien said he told allen that kind of offensive mindset wouldn't work at the next level.

“i told him, 'the only way you’re going to get on the floor with that team is you have to defend,' ” cyprien said.

“ 'defense will have to be your calling card.' ”

more: suns seek more production from 2nd unit

he started in the right place: by the time eddie house joined the celtics in 2007, allen was in his fourth season. among the first things house noticed about allen: he took his role seriously. house could see it in practice, where allen guarded paul pierce and ray allen.

“playing defense, you have to want to do that and he wanted to do it,’’ said house, a former asu star and 11-year nba veteran. “he was one of those that bought into it, (saying), 'hey, this is what i have to do.' ”

after failing to make the playoffs for two years, the celtics brought in kevin garnett, forming a trio of stars with pierce and ray allen. they had championship talent (which paid off with that season's nba title), but they also had veteran leadership.

“everybody held each other accountable so nobody was slacking,” house said. “after losses, on the bus ride home we’d talk about plays. on the plane, we’d look at film before we started playing cards. we dedicated time to make sure we got our business taken care of first before we started relaxing and moving onto the next game.”

related: chriss learning defensively under tucker's tough love

he prepares: over 13 nba seasons, allen has earned a reputation for intense video study. in a 2015 espn.com profile, he explained his process: once he learns who he’s defending, he tells the memphis video staff that he wants clips of the opponent’s three previous contests. he wants to see isolation situations. he wants to see transition touches. everything.

for that reason, watson calls allen the best one-on-one defender in the nba. a master at reading player’s tendencies. sacramento coach dave joerger, who coached allen during his time at memphis, calls him "one of the best defenders i've seen since bruce bowen."

on jan. 30, allen matched up against booker during memphis' 115-96 win in phoenix. because the game was a rout, he played only 19 minutes, but most e against booker. in the first quarter, allen stripped the suns guard after booker tried to dribble behind his back.

in the third, allen chased booker around the perimeter. after fighting through two screens, allen called for help and stopped in the paint. as the p swung to booker in the corner, allen realized his teammates never answered his call. at the last second, he broke to the perimeter and still managed to contest booker’s s , which was short.

booker finished with 22 points, but seven e with allen on the bench in the fourth quarter. he knows that experience will help him in wednesday's contest should they face off again. it also will help his growth as a scorer.

"in the future, when i have a young kid guard me, i can say i’ve had tony allen guard me, so i’ve seen it at all,'' said booker, who just turned 20 in october. "that’s how i look at it. going against all these older guys, i feel like once my body matures and i get older, the game will come easier for me."

contact doug haller at 602-444-4949 or at [email protected] follow him at twitter.com/doughaller.

suns at grizzlies

when: 6 p.m.

where: fedexforum, memphis.

tv/radio: fsaz/ktar fm 98.7.

memphis update: the grizzlies (32-22) have won five of six, including monday’s 89-74 win over san antonio. (the spurs were without all-star forward kawhi leonard.) they are 10 games over .500 for the first time this season. in their jan. 30 rout of phoenix, pg mike conley (19.9 ppg, 6.2 apg) had a career-high 38 points. a 40-percent 3-point shooter, marc gasol (20.9 ppg) causes problems with his perimeter shooting.

new orleans pelicans guard tyreke evans (1) is denied

new orleans pelicans guard tyreke evans (1) is denied by phoenix suns forward tj warren (12) as he goes to the basket in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert/ap
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phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) shoots against

phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) shoots against new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert/ap
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phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) goes to the basket

phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) goes to the basket in front of new orleans pelicans guard new orleans pelicans forward dante cunningham in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert/ap
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new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) reacts

new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) reacts after being fouled in the second half of an nba basketball game against the phoenix suns in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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phoenix suns center tyson chandler, left, and forward

phoenix suns center tyson chandler, left, and forward p.j. tucker, right force a jump ball against new orleans pelicans guard buddy hield late in the second half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) is blocked as he

phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) is blocked as he goes to the basket in the second half of an nba basketball game against the new orleans pelicans in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) is blocked as he

phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) is blocked as he goes to the basket in the second half of an nba basketball game against the new orleans pelicans in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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phoenix suns center tyson chandler, left, and forward

phoenix suns center tyson chandler, left, and forward p.j. tucker, right force a jump ball against new orleans pelicans guard buddy hield late in the second half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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new orleans pelicans head coach alvin gentry calls

new orleans pelicans head coach alvin gentry calls out from the bench in the second half of an nba basketball game against the phoenix suns in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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new orleans pelicans guard jrue holiday (11) slam dunks

new orleans pelicans guard jrue holiday (11) slam dunks in the second half of an nba basketball gameagainst the phoenix suns in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) slam

new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) slam dunks over phoenix suns guard devin booker (1), forward p.j. tucker (17), and guard eric bledsoe (2) in the second half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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new orleans pelicans guard jrue holiday (11) slam dunks

new orleans pelicans guard jrue holiday (11) slam dunks in the second half of an nba basketball game against the phoenix suns in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. the pelicans won 111-106. 

gerald herbert/ap
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phoenix suns center tyson chandler (4) misses a dunk

phoenix suns center tyson chandler (4) misses a dunk as new orleans pelicans forward terrence jones (9) and forward anthony davis (23) defend during the second quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
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new orleans pelicans guard e'twaun moore (55) attempts

new orleans pelicans guard e'twaun moore (55) attempts to shoot the ball between phoenix suns center alex len (21) and forward p.j. tucker (17) during the second quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
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new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) dunks

new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) dunks the ball over phoenix suns forward p.j. tucker (17) and guard brandon knight (11) during the second quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
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new orleans pelicans forward terrence jones (9) shoots

new orleans pelicans forward terrence jones (9) shoots the ball over phoenix suns center tyson chandler (4) during the second quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
fullscreen
new orleans pelicans guard tyreke evans (1) is denied

new orleans pelicans guard tyreke evans (1) is denied by phoenix suns forward tj warren (12) as he goes to the basket in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert, ap
fullscreen
new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) and

new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) and phoenix suns center tyson chandler (4) react during the first quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
fullscreen
new orleans pelicans forward terrence jones (9) goes

new orleans pelicans forward terrence jones (9) goes to the basket in front of phoenix suns forward marquese chriss in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert, ap
fullscreen
new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) shoots

new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) shoots the ball against the phoenix suns during the first quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
fullscreen
phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) shoots over new

phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) shoots over new orleans pelicans forward solomon hill (44) in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert, ap
fullscreen
phoenix suns forward marquese chriss (0) slam dunk

phoenix suns forward marquese chriss (0) slam dunk over new orleans pelicans forward anthony davis (23) in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert, ap
fullscreen
new orleans pelicans forward terrence jones (9) dunks

new orleans pelicans forward terrence jones (9) dunks the ball over phoenix suns forward marquese chriss (0) and center tyson chandler (4) during the first quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
fullscreen
phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) goes to the basket

phoenix suns guard devin booker (1) goes to the basket in front of new orleans pelicans guard new orleans pelicans forward dante cunningham in the first half of an nba basketball game in new orleans, monday, feb. 6, 2017. 

gerald herbert, ap
fullscreen
new orleans pelicans guard jrue holiday (11) shoots

new orleans pelicans guard jrue holiday (11) shoots the ball over phoenix suns forward marquese chriss (0) and guard devin booker (1) during the first quarter at the smoothie king center, feb. 6, 2017. 

derick e. hingle-usa today sports
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