The Sacramento Kings ended an absolutely monstrous November schedule today with a Sunday matinee against the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately, the Kings were outclassed without DeMarcus Cousins, and the better team won tonight by a score of 97-85.
The story of the game again was, again, turnovers. The Grizzlies are an elite defensive team, but the Kings didn't help themselves in that regard by handing the ball right back to their rivals in several headscratching ways. The team totaled 23 turnovers, leading to 23 points for the Grizzlies. The worst culprit tonight was Darren Collison, who finished with 5 turnovers to offset his 7 assists. Collison did not play a great floor game tonight. Although he was fourth on the team with 16 points, Darren can definitely play better.
On a brigher note, the Kings got a huge boost from Reggie Evans. Coming off of 7 straight DNP-CDs, Reggie came off the bench with his trademark assault on the boards, several times going over and around a Memphis team known for its physicality in the paint. Reggie was also unusually deft scoring around the rim, set up several times by his teammates, grabbing every loose ball in sight, and even attacking the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, finishing with 17 points and 20 rebounds on the night. Rudy Gay led the Kings with 20 points and Ben McLemore added 18, but both had their own issues with turnovers, finishing with 4 and 3 respectively.
The Grizzlies jumped all over the Kings early in the game, capitalizing on the Kings' numerous miscues. Zach Randolph was a force in the paint, ending the game with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. Randolph was unstoppable, both facing up and with his back to the basket, attacking right into the chest of the Kings' defenders. The Grizzlies built up a 21 point lead in the first half.
The Kings are a scrappy team. Digging down in the third quarter defensively, the Kings were able to stifle the Grizzlies' offense and slowly chipped away at the lead. At the end of the third, it was 9. By about halfway through the fourth, it was 3. The star of the night was Evans, whose physicality and scoring in the post uplifting the team when it needed it most.
Unfortunately, the turnover bug never quite left the Kings. Down the stretch, Gasol took over for the Grizzlies offensively while the Kings' execution fell apart. Gasol ended the game with 18 points, 6 boards and 5 assists to continue his MVP campaign. The Grizzlies kept the Kings at arm's length down the stretch, which proved to be enough for the night.
The Kings now stand at 9-8 at the close of the month, better than even the most optimistic prognosticator had them pegged after the schedule came out. Now, with a long homestand coming up with several winnable games, the Kings have the chance to build on their strengths while working on their weaknesses. Its a long grueling season, but the Kings are in a good position after the toughest opening schedule in the league. Next up for the Kings is the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues