by Charlie O. Mallonee
Sacramento — The New Year’s Eve afternoon game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings did not become the big holiday celebration the King’s fans were hoping for when they filled the building to capacity. The Kings had defeated the Grizzlies in Memphis earlier in the month, but they could not tame Memphis Saturday afternoon as they lost 112-98.
This was the second consecutive loss for the Kings (14-19) who lost on the road on Wednesday night in Portland. For Memphis (22-14), it was their second win in a row as they were coming off a big victory at home over Oklahoma City on Thursday. The victory also gave the Grizzlies a positive start to their four-game West Coast road trip.
After the game, Kings head coach Dave Joerger called the Grizzlies one of the top four teams in the Western Conference. That is the way the Memphis played and looked in the game against the Kings.
It was all about the “3” for the Grizzlies
Memphis came into the contest shooting 34-percent from 3-point range. In this game, they shot 48.6-percent (17-for-35) from long range literally breaking the backs of the Kings from downtown. Forward JaMychal Green went for 4-for-5 beyond the arc. Zach Randolph came off the bench hitting 4-0f-6 from long range. Mike Conley went 3-for-4 from downtown en route to leading the Memphis scoring attack with 22 points.
The Grizzlies overall shooting was spectacular in the game. They shot an impressive 50.6-percent (44-for-87) from the field. Memphis had five players finish in double figures – Conley 22, Green 18, Randolph 14, Carter 14 and Daniels 11.
The Memphis bench outscored the Sacramento reserves 52-32.
Memphis won this game without much help from Gasol
The Grizzlies are usually very dependent on the center Marc Gasol if they are to have success in a game. The big man was actually very quiet during the first half scoring just two points on free throws while going 0-for-6 from the floor. He also recorded only one rebound in the half.
Gasol disappeared after playing just under three minutes in the third quarter and did return to the game. He rolled his left ankle and went to the training room for treatment. Per a team spokesperson, he could have returned to the game if needed.
We did see Gasol walking under his own power out of the training room after the game. He was not going at full speed, but he did not appear to be in pain.
Tough night for Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins had a tough night with a team that plays tough down low. In the first half, Cousins emphasis seemed to be on distributing the ball. He finished the first half with five of the Kings nine assists.
Cousins picked up his fourth personal foul with 9:16 to play in the third quarter of the game and the Kings trailing 57-49. Joerger chose to keep Cousins in the contest but he really could not be factor on defense for fear of picking up another foul.
Then with 4:08 remaining in the third quarter, Cousins was hit with his eighth technical foul of the season after getting into a shouting confrontation with several Memphis players. At first Cousins and everyone in the building thought he had been ejected from the game because of the hand gestures of the referee, but that turned out not to be the case. Cousins was allowed to remain in the game.
Cousins finished the game with 26 points, 8 assists and four rebounds.
Sacramento struggled with their shooting in the game
The Kings had trouble getting the ball to drop through the basket at times on Saturday. For much of the second half they were shooting under 40-percent from the field. They finished the game with a 43.1-field goal shooting percent (31-for-72).
The 3-point shot was also not the Kings friend versus the Grizzlies. They went 11-for-28 (39.3-percent) from downtown for the game.
The bright spot for the Kings was at the free throw line. Sacramento went 25-for-28 (89.3-percent) from the charity stripe. Memphis went to the free throw line just nine times in the game.
Lawson injured in first half – status is up in the air
Kings guard Ty Lawson was hit in the face late in the second quarter of the game. In order to get to bench and be substituted for, Lawson had to commit a foul to stop the action.
The only update that was given by the team on his status after the game was that Lawson was still under medical evaluation for his injuries.
The Kings are off until Tuesday when they will travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets for the first time this season. It is always a big deal for some of the Kings players to face Denver because the Nuggets are coached by their former coach Michael Malone.
The Grizzlies travel down the coast to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Tuesday night.