Kings 113, Grizzlies 109: 7 straight for the good guys
The Sacramento Kings entered FedExForum in Memphis on Tuesday night with the longest winning streak (6) in the NBA. Would it survive a tough road game against a good-but-injured Grizzlies team with a returning Ja Morant? Let’s talk about it.
The Kings found out (officially) that Ja Morant would be making his return to the Grizzlies lineup a few hours before the tipoff, but Memphis still had to play this one without Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, and Danny Green. Talent advantage – Kings. You would think.
Memphis looked like the better team for most of the first half before Mike Brown and the Kings figured out how to string together some stops against their physical and aggressive offense. Sacramento, led by some impressive perimeter pressure from the guards, took control of this game through the third quarter and into the fourth quarter before the Kings gave their fans a collective heart attack in crunch time.
The Kings committed 7 turnovers in the final 5 minutes and made this win way more difficult than it needed to be. Ja Morant was full-terrifying, scoring bucket after bucket and causing Sacramento just as much trouble on defense with his ball pressure. The Kings’ double-digit lead evaporated, and this turned into your classic time crunch free throw contest that Sacramento hardly won after Ja finally missed a shot, a free throw, to seal this game for the good guys. Kings win 113-109. Let’s get into some details.
Light The Beam!
Sacramento Kings: 43.3 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 45 REB, 27 AST, 42 PiP, 20 TO
Memphis Grizzlies: 45.1 FG%, 26.7 3P%, 49 REB, 26 AST, 62 PiP, 18 TO
The Good, The Bad, & That’s It
- Welcome, Harrison: After a really rough start to the season, Harrison Barnes continues to find his groove. He was huge tonight, dropping 26 points on 7-13 shooting from the field, and 4-8 shooting from three. His performance included several big shots early to keep the Kings in this game when it was going Memphis’ way, and some big shots late to keep the team on top.
- Grit and Grind: This felt like a game the Kings have lost time and time again over the years. Memphis had the momentum early, the Kings made a nice run, but they coughed it up late. Not this time. Not this team. Yes, it got ugly at the end there, but the Kings did just enough to win when so often it has felt like previous Kings teams would do just enough to lose this exact type of game.
- Red Hot: Kevin Huerter had another strong showing tonight with 18 points and 6 rebounds on 6-10 shooting. He also got one hell of a shout out from Kevin Durant earlier today. Everything’s coming up Huerter.
- Big Problems: The Memphis Grizzlies’ size and aggressiveness going to the rim was a big problem for the Kings in this one, particularly in the first half. Domantas Sabonis isn’t a rim protector. Chimezie Metu got targeted in the post repeatedly off the bench. Mike Brown did what he could from the sidelines with quick timeout after quick timeout following poor defensive possessions, but this is who the Kings are. They’re going to give up a lot of easy points at the rim, and their best solution with this roster is to just keep outscoring opponents when they can’t come up with stops like they did tonight.
- Stopping Sabonis: For the 2nd time this season, Sabonis struggled to score against the big Memphis Grizzlies. Domas only scored 11 points and was ineffective against the Grizzlies back on October 27th when the Kings lost to Memphis by 15, and he was off again tonight scoring just 9 points on 3-8 shooting. To Sabonis’ credit, though, he found other ways to contribute in this one, pulling down 13 important rebounds, and dishing out 8 assists.
The King of Kings
I am running out of ways to praise De’Aaron Fox. Swipa looked like the best player on the floor for either team tonight, dropping 32 points on 11-21 shooting from the field and 5-8 (!) shooting from three to go along with 6 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals. If he isn’t an All-Star right now, I don’t know what else voters want him to do.
The Kings are in Atlanta on Wednesday night for the 2nd game of a back-to-back against the Hawks. Tipoff at 4:30 pacific, 7:30 eastern. Kevin Huerter revenge game. Let’s make it eight.