Grizzlies fall to Kings in Mike Conley’s rough return

The Memphis Grizzlies (18-10) ended their six-game home winning streak tonight, falling 96-92 to the Sacramento Kings (10-16).

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News broke Friday morning that Mike Conley would be making his return to the starting lineup, sending shockwaves of excitement throughout the Grizzlies fan base. The Grizzlies’ $153 million dollar point guard suffered a fractured vertebrae just over three weeks ago against the Charlotte Hornets. After further testing, he was expected to be out for at least 6-8 weeks. Fortunately, he didn’t need that long.

Unfortunately, his return was… less than exciting.

Sacramento jumped out to an early lead, fueled by Garrett Temple’s 12-point first quarter.  They never gave it back, leading by double digits for most of the game. Following one of the better first halves that opponents have played in the FedEx Forum this season, Memphis (per usual) battled back in the second half. With just under a minute left in the fourth, the Grizzlies had pulled within three – a scenario all too familiar for Grind City.

The Kings held on, giving Memphis their first loss in a “clutch” situation this season.

DeMarcus Cousins led the way for the Kings with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos (a former Memphian) followed closely with 17 and 16, respectively. As a team, Sacramento shot 38-percent from the field, 29-percent from beyond-the-arc. They dominated the fast break, outscoring the Grizzlies 20-9 in transition.

Marc Gasol continues to be the savior for the Grizzlies offense, scoring 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, including a perfect 100-percent from the free-throw line. Troy Daniels found his stroke again, adding 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting from downtown. The Daniels effect has been a catalyst for this Grizzlies offense. Zach Randolph continues to prove he’s the best 6th-man in the NBA, with 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Conley’s nine-game absence resulted in an 8-point outing. While it’s obvious this will change moving forward, rust was apparent as he led the team in turnovers (3) as well.

What’s next?

The Memphis Grizzlies have a day off, picking back up Sunday afternoon against the Utah Jazz (17-10). The last time these two met, Vince Carter’s 20 points led Memphis to a win in Salt Lake City.  Utah holds the upper-hand historically, with a convincing record of 51-27 (16-22 at home).

Both Chandler Parsons and James Ennis have returned to “active” status in the Grizzlies line-up. Although they didn’t dress out against the Kings, both are expected to be donning the Beale Street Blue again soon, perhaps as quickly as Sunday.

Follow @BealeStBearsFS on Twitter to keep up with the game!