Coming into Friday night’s game with the Sacramento Kings the Memphis Grizzlies had lost 3 straight games by at least 21 points. They had given up at least 99 points in all 3 games. Memphis made sure that wouldn’t happen Friday as the Grizzlies put on a smothering defensive clinic in their 85-69 win over the Kings. It was a season low in points allowed for the Grizzlies who are second in the league in points allowed per game. Ironically, the last time the teams met on January 7 in Sacramento, the Grizzlies scored a season high 113 points in a 32 point rout of the Kings. Sacramento had won 2 straight before this game.
The Kings would jump out to an early 4-2 lead, but would not lead for the rest of the game. The Grizzlies went on a 12-2 run to take a 14-6 lead with 6:35 left in the first. The Grizzlies maintained the lead. They took an 18-11 lead on a Rudy Gay jumper with 4:09 left. Neither team would score again until Kings’ guard Isaiah Thomas hit a lay-up with 1:07 left. Sacramento Center DeMarcus Cousins hit one of two free throws with 43 seconds left to make it 18-14 Grizzlies. Neither team would score again for the rest of the first.
The Grizzlies would open the second quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 28-14 lead with 8:40 left. Memphis would not lead by more than that for the rest of the second, but Sacramento could only get to within 9 points. Kings’ guard Tyreke Evans made two free throws with 4:35 left to make it 34-25. The Grizzlies would expand their lead to 40-27 with 2:54 left but wouldn’t score again until Marc Gasol made 2 free throws with 31 seconds left. The Kings were unable to make a serious dent in the lead though. In face once James Johnson hit a layup for the Kings to make it 40-30 with 1:54 left. Gasol’s free throws made it 42-30 and that was the halftime score.
The Grizzlies opened the third on a 10-4 run to make it 52-34 with 7:01 left. The Kings would get no closer than 12 points for the rest of the quarter. Kings’ forward John Salmons made a 7 foot jumper to make it 59-47 with 1:15 left. Forward Darrell Arthur made one of two free throws with 54 seconds left to make it 60-47, and that was the score at the end of the third.
The Kings opened the fourth on a 9-4 run to cut the lead to 64-56 with 8:55 left. The Kings would get no closer, but the Grizzlies never really put them away for good until late in the game. Mike Conley hit a 20 footer with 7:43 left to make it 68-58. Neither team would score again until tony Allen hit an 11 foot jump shot to make it 70-58 with 5:54 left. After the teams traded baskets Travis outlaw hit a 3 pointer with 5 minutes to go to make it 72-63. Conley scored 5 straight points to put the Grizzlies up 77-63 .Memphis would end up winning 85-69.
The Grizzlies improved to 25-13 on the season and the Kings dropped to 15-25. The Grizzlies have not lost 4 straight games this season. This was the fifth straight win for the Grizzlies against the Kings in Memphis, and 9th win in 11 games overall in the series.
The Kings shot just 34.1% from the field and 2-10 from 3 point range. In fact it wasn’t until late in the third that the Kings even brought their shooting percentage above 30%. Sacramento made 9 of 15 free throws. The Kings had 43 rebounds, 9 assists, 8 steals, 7 blocks, and 15 turnovers. The Kings had 7 fast break points and 40 points in the paint
Cousins had 22 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, an assist, and a block. He was the only King in double figure scoring. Thomas had 9 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Tyreke Evans had 8 points, 7 rebounds, and a block. Outlaw had 8 points and 4 rebounds. Salmons had 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, and 2 steals.Every player on the King’s roster played at least 7 minutes.
The Grizzlies shot 43.6% from the field including 3 of 7 three pointers. Memphis made 14 of 20 free throws. The Grizzlies had 48 rebounds, 21 assists, 8 steals, 10 blocks and 16 turnovers. Memphis had 16 fast break points, and 42 points in the paint.
All five Grizzlies’ starters scored in double figures. Memphis was playing without likely All-Star forward Zach Randolph who missed the game with a lower back strain. Conley had 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. Gasol had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, and a steal. Guard Tony Allen had 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks and a steal. Forward Rudy Gay had 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Forward Marreese Speights had 10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal starting in place of Randolph. The Grizzlies bench only scored 11 points, and the Grizzlies only used 8 players tonight. This was despite being without Randolph and being up by double digits for most of the game after the first quarter.
This might be the best defensive performance of the season for the Grizzlies, and they are built on their defense. Next up is a trip to Chicago to take on the Bulls Saturday night.