The Grizzlies are 14-17 and 5-11 on the road, and are 6-4 in their last 10 after back-2-back wins against Indiana and Toronto. For the month of December, they are 3-2 at home, and 3-5 on the road. Their 3 road victories came against Phoenix, the Clippers and Indiana. And, their 3 home wins came against Portland, Charlotte, and Indiana.
This summer, Memphis only made one addition to the lineup that wasn’t a draft pick, and that was Tony Allen who they signed as a FA in July. Actually, 8 of their 13 players were acquired thru the draft including this year’s #12 pick Xavier Henry and the #28 pick Greivis Vasquez. Darrell Arthur was acquired in a draft night trade in 08, so you could count him as number 9. Marc Gasol’s rights were acquired in a trade for his brother Pau in 08, and Zack Randolph was acquired in a trade in 09. And, the final player, Hamed Haddadi was signed as a FA in 08. This is truly a team that has been built thru the draft.
Memphis is slightly below average offensively and right on average defensively. They are a poor defensive rebounding team and are only average on the offensive boards, so the Kings should have a big advantage here. They’re slightly below average in FT% and 3P% and just average in FG%. And, they are only a half a percentage point better than the Kings at getting to the FT line, and the Kings are the 4th worst in the league. I guess you could say that the Grizzlies are average to below average in almost every category, which is probably why they rank 10th in the West.
After sitting out training camp over a contract dispute, Xavier Henry has had a less than stellar year so far. He’s averaging 5.6 pts / 1.3 rebs / 0.6 asts while shooting 41% field and 12% from three in 17 mpg. He had started every game in December until the last one where he did not play due to a bruised knee. He is listed day-to-day. Instead of using the other rookie Vasquez, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins went with a backcourt of O.J. Mayo, Allen, and Gay because he liked the defensive matchups those three provided, particularly with the way Gay (5) and Allen (6) were racking up steals.
Rudy Gay has been earning his big contract, averaging 21 pts / 6 rebs / 3 asts in 40 mpg while shooting 48% field and 42% from three point range on 3 attempts per game. OJ Mayo who started 13 of the first 18 games before turning that role over to Henry in December, is putting up some decent numbers, averaging 13 pts / 2.5 rebs / 1.8 asts and shooting 42% field and 39% from three on 4 attempts per game. Marc Gasol is having a decent year, with 12 pts / 7.4 rebs / 1.5 blks. But, Zack Randolph is having another outstanding season averaging 18 pts/ 12.4 rebs / 1.7 asts in 36 mpg. Mike Conley has started all 31 games at PG and is averaging 14 pts / 7 asts / 3 rebs on 45% field and 36% from beyond the arc.
Arthur, Allen and Sam Young are their main reserves. The others, especially Hasheem Thabeet who’s averaging only 1.4 pts / 1.4 rebs / 0.5 blks in 9 mpg, really don’t contribute much. And, that is what really makes the Grizzlies just average; they have a very poor bench.
The Kings were 1-2 against the Grizzlies last season, with their lone victory coming in Arco with a 127-116 overtime win. Memphis won the other two games 116-105 in Memphis and 102-85 in Sacramento. In our only meeting this season, on Nov. 6th in Sacramento, the Grizzlies beat the Kings 100-91. In that game, Gay and Evans cancelled each other out with Gay scoring 32 pts & 9 rebs while Evans had 30 pts and 8 rebs. Garcia was the 2nd leading scorer for the Kings with 21, and Randolph was 2nd for Memphis with 20. Westphal went with Evans, Udrich, Garcia and Dalemberts, with Casspi the only other wing or guard to come off the bench. The other 4 players in the 9-man rotation were Cousins with 23 minutes, Jackson with 20 minutes, Landry with 19, and JT with 16. Those 4 scored only 16 pts and had 13 rebs combined in 78 minutes of play. JT was 3-4 from the field for 6 pts, while the other 3 shot below 25%. Jackson had 7 of the rebounds but only scored 2 pts. Landry was by far the least affective going 1-4 for 4 pts / 0 rebs / 2 turnovers and 3 fouls. DeMarcus was a close 2nd with 4 pts / 3 rebs / 4 turnovers and 5 fouls.
The Kings did a good job protecting the rim, allowing the Grizzlies only 9-12 although their PF’s were 5-7. The Kings were better at getting to the rim 15-24, unfortunately half were from Tyreke who was 8-9. From the 3pt line Tyreke, Beno, Cisco and Omri combined to shot 5-20 for a eFG% of only 37.5%, and from short, medium, and long range jump shots the Kings were 14-35 for 40%, and finished shooting only 41% for the game. Besides the poor shooting, the Kings committed 20 turnovers, with 5 by Tyreke and Dalembert, and another 4 by Cousins, and that pretty much put the game out of reach.
As we have so sadly found out, the sum of the players does not a team make. So, while the Grizzlies have done little to beef up their lineup, the additions of Dalembert, Cousins and Landry haven’t increased the Kings chances of beating Memphis. And, while Tyreke did show a glimpse of the ability he possesses in the Clippers game after 4 days of rest. There is no telling if he can repeat that this game, but if he can there’s a chance we can win this game.
With the Kings inability to defend against Randolph, I expect to see PW make another lineup change. I would like to see him go with the veteran lineup again but with JT starting in place of Carl. And, I’d like to see more of the Dalembert / Cousins duo. If Casspi, Garcia, Tyreke and Beno can shoot the 3 as well as they did against the Clippers, I think we’re in for another very exciting game. This isn’t one of the games in my package deal, so I just might go and buy tickets to this one. Hope to see you there. Go Kings!!