CK Press Box Report: Memphis Grizzlies 89, Sacramento Kings 87

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

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As soon as he caught the inbounds pass, Marcus Thornton committed to being either the hero or the goat of this game.

With less five seconds remaining and his team down two points, the Sacramento Kings sixth man forced up a three for the win, only to have his attempt stuffed by Marc Gasol.  In the end, the Kings fell 89-87 to the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, who swept the season series for the first time in their franchise’s history.

The Kings move to 27-50 overall and 19-20 at Sleep Train Arena.  Sacramento has now lost four straight and its last five games at home.  The five straight losses at Sleep Train are a season-high.

The Kings return to action Wednesday when they host the visiting New Orleans Hornets.

- Jonathan Santiago

Notes and Analysis

  • Mike Conley cut up the Kings’ defense all day long, scoring a game-high 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting.  When he got past his man at the top of the key, he found a wide-open lane all the way to the basket.  This has been an issue for the Kings all season long, but someone has to rotate over to slow down the dribble-drive penetration.
  • After playing only nine minutes off the bench in Friday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, DeMarcus Cousins was back in the starting lineup.  The Grizzlies had very few answers for the third-year center, allowing him to score a team-high 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting.  The only thing that slowed down Cousins today was foul trouble.
  • With his starting backcourt struggling early, Keith Smart turned to Toney Douglas and Jimmer Fredette to save the day.  The duo responded with a combined 27 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field, 4-for-8 from behind the arc and 7-for-8 from the free throw line.  Jimmer was particularly effective in the first half, scoring ten points in the second period, including a basket that gave the Kings a 44-43 lead going into the break.
  • Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half and finished with a game-high eight assists on the night.  When his perimeter shot wasn’t falling, Thomas went right at the Grizzlies vaunted defense and for the most part, came away with either a bucket or a pair of free throws.
  • Kings starters Jason Thompson, John Salmons and Tyreke Evans combined to score nine points on 3-for-16 shooting.  With Patrick Patterson missing the game with a back problem, the Kings really need a solid night out of Thompson.  Instead, it was Chuck Hayes that came off the Kings bench to play solid defense and rebound the ball while Thompson sat with five fouls.
  • Like Cousins, Marcus Thornton hardly played against Dallas on Friday.  Today, Smart gave Thornton a long leash and the veteran reserve struggled, scoring just six points on 2-for-13 shooting and 2-for-8 from behind the arc.  With the game on the line and the Kings trailing by just two, Smart had plenty of options to turn to.  Instead of going for two points and the tie, Thornton picked up his dribble too early and had no where to go.  The rest is history.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings shot 32.6 (14-for-34) from the field in the first half and 35.8 percent (29-for-81) overall yet still only lost by two points against a 52-win squad.  There is no figuring out this Kings team.

- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  Will DeMarcus Cousins be a factor today against the Grizzlies?

Cousins did most of his damage against the Grizzlies in the first quarter.  Cousins scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the period and played all but 30 seconds.  Foul trouble plagued him the rest of the game, but he wasn’t using that as an excuse in defeat.  Postgame, he told media that the team went away from what was working and was speechless when asked about the decision late to play small ball.

2.  Will Marc Gasol be a factor today against the Kings?

Gasol was not much of a factor against Sacramento early.  However, fouls to the Kings starting frontline allowed him to make more of a difference in the second half, where he scored eight of his 15 points in the third quarter.  Gasol was also quite effective on the glass. He pulled down 10 rebounds to finish with his 16th double-double of the season.

3.  Can the Kings cut off the Grizzlies’ passing attack?

The Grizzlies offense did not put on a passing clinic against the Kings.  They finished with just 17 assists to 14 turnovers in today’s win.  This game was not pretty and definitely not won because of offense.  Ball movement wasn’t a deciding factor in today’s game as the Grizzlies’ defense stymied the Kings all day.

- Jonathan Santiago

Quotes of the Game

Toney Douglas on if the four-guard lineups catch the team by surprise sometimes:

No, it’s give and take.  We’ve got enough guards that we can match up with it.  Sometimes if other teams go four guards, it’s a tradeoff.  There will be mismatches and they can run the ball up the court.  So that’s a coach’s decision.

Marc Gasol on the Kings going for three on their final possession:

I think they were there.  They probably wanted to do the same thing that they did before where DeMarcus (Cousins) slow rolls and throws the ball in there.  Smaller guys on the weakside and so he’s rolling right through them and we were doing a good job on helping on that.

Gasol on defending Thornton’s three:

He pumped faked, but I let him jump.  I’m not much of a jumper anyways.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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