After two big wins in a row, the Kings came crashing back to Earth in Memphis. The Grizzlies were unstoppable offensively the whole game, scoring 128 points on 54.3% shooting, a season-high for opponent points. A whopping four players scored at least 20 points for Memphis, and they also shot 50% from the three point line. Rudy Gay was solid throughout, leading Memphis with 23 points, 4 assists and 4 steals, but Mike Conley got Memphis off to the races, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the 1st quarter alone. Marc Gasol had 20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 blocks as he dominated the Kings on both ends of the court, and O.J. Mayo chipped in with 22 points (6-10 from three) off the bench.
The Kings offense was not the primary issue tonight, as they had a season high in assists with 20 and scored well, but the defense was atrocious. The Kings looked a step slow all night, letting Memphis get into the paint at will (62 points in the paint for the Grizzlies). The Grizzlies also outrebounded Sacramento 51 to 38 and had just 11 turnovers to 27 assists.
Sacramento was without three starters for most of the game. Chuck Hayes is still out with a dislocated shoulder, but it looks like he's making a quick recovery and could be available to start playing next week. John Salmons was sick and stayed at the hotel, leaving Francisco Garcia to start in his place. Marcus Thornton started the game and played 13 minutes, and ended up sitting for the rest of the game due to a sore thigh, probably the same one he injured against Orlando a couple weeks ago.
Sacramento fell behind by 19 points early on in the 1st half thanks to Memphis' phenomenal shooting, but were able to rally back in the 2nd quarter with a 39 point outburst. Jimmer Fredette came in for Marcus Thornton and played like the guy we know he can be. He had 15 points and 6 assists in the 1st half, and the Kings were only down 8. Jimmer would finish with a team and career-high 20 points, beating his previous career high of 17, which also happened in Memphis.
The Grizzlies didn't let up in the 2nd half however, coming out just as hot, while the Kings had cooled off substantially. Sacramento only scored 16 points in the quarter, and that was essentially the ball game.
Tyreke Evans played 31 minutes but couldn't get anything really going offensively. Tony Allen did a fantastic job of pressuring him with or without the ball, and as a result Tyreke only got 9 shots off all night. He finished with just 13 points and 4 assists, and looked tired throughout the game.
DeMarcus Cousins had yet another double-double, scoring 19 points and having 11 rebounds, but he had trouble with Marc Gasol all night long, on both ends of the court. On offense, Marc's huge body and length stymied quite a few of DeMarcus' shots near the rim, and Cousins eventually had to step out and hit some jumpers, which continue to fall for him. Unfortunately on the other end, the jumpers fell for Gasol as well, who is a very underrated shooter, and he also has a great array of post-moves and excellent court vision for a big man. He plays a lot like a bigger, burlier Vlade Divac.
Donté Greene had an all-around great game, coming off the bench and scoring a season-high 19 points on just 11 shots, to go with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He was efficient and played within himself and it was very good to see. He probably should have gotten the start over Cisco at SF, particularly with how big and long Rudy Gay is. Cisco did not match up well there and ended up with two quick fouls trying to guard him.
Travis Outlaw had perhaps his best game in Sacramento, which isn't saying much. He scored 8 points on 4-9 shooting off the bench, but like all the Kings had trouble on defense. J.J. Hickson had very little impact, with two points, 1 turnover and 2 fouls being his only statistical contributions. It was the first game all year J.J. hasn't corralled a rebound. Isaiah Thomas came in and did a good job defensively on Mike Conley and distributing the ball (he had 5 assists), but his shot once again had trouble falling and he went 1-7 from the field, with his only basket coming from being left wide open under the rim.
Keith Smart and the Kings need to study tape of the Memphis Grizzlies. They don't have the same talent level as Memphis yet, but they do have some similar players and they both want to play the same style of basketball. Coach Smart says he wants the Kings to be a team that rebounds and runs. Memphis is one of the teams that can really do that. They also have a lot of guys who can score, but they also realize the necessity of sharing the ball, and do that as well.
There are lessons to be learned from these massacres. With a day off tomorrow, hopefully the Kings can regroup and get back to playing good basketball, and they'll have a tough task on Sunday when they visit Portland.