After a whooping in Houston, the Sacramento Kings have limped into Memphis for a Friday night game against Coach Joerger’s previous team, the Grizzlies. After losing their successful head coach, and then suffering a couple haymaker injuries this season, one might think that the Grizzlies had final met the end of their run, and yet, they’re sitting in 5th place of the Western Conference with a record of 18-9. If you’re looking for something fast paced and high scoring tonight, you might want to watch Rockets vs. Pelicans, because this game in Memphis is going to be like watching two sumo wrestlers duking it out in a mudpit. Let’s talk King’s basketball.
When: Friday, December 16th; 5:00pm PST
Where: FedEx Forum, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140AM
For Your Consideration
Kings Focus: Memphis is not a high scoring team; you know it, I know, everyone on either side of the contest tonight knows it. At a hair over 97 points per game they score the fourth least in the entire league, and so the Kings have to first allow the Grizzlies an opportunity to be who they want to be, and no more. Do not let a random bench player or starter go off above their average and win the game by leap frogging their night production. The Grizzlies are the worst shooting team in the league at 42% from the field a night. They make a third of their three point attempts and are dead last in the NBA at two point percentage at 45.6%, so playing solid defense and not allowing 30 three point attempts will keep the Kings competitive, even without the team’s second leading scorer, Rudy Gay. Memphis is 19th in turnovers and 21st in assists this season, so they’ll make mistakes and allow for steals to be made, but the Kings will have to take advantage of those turnovers.
As I warned earlier, this game is going to have to be a drag’em out slugfest for the Kings to stay competitive. The Grizzlies allow the opponents the fourth fewest points per game at 97.3 a contest and are currently first in the NBA in defensive rating. They’re fourth in the league in steals, so taking care of the basketball and limiting their extra possessions will be key. Where the Kings can really take advantage, is on the free throw line. The Grizzlies foul more than every team in the NBA but one, and if the Kings can take advantage of that early, Memphis’ bench is not something to be terrified of. On any given night the Grizzlies hold their opponents to an average of 43% from the field and while they give up the sixth most three point attempts, they only allow opponents the sixth lowest percentage of made threes at 34.1%. Finding a way to get hot from behind the arc will be the path to a win. Fresh from resting the game in Houston on Wednesday, DeMarcus is in for a rough night, with Memphis ninth in blocks, and allowing the sixth least amount of two point shots. In fact, Memphis allows the fewest points in the NBA at just 36.5 a game. Boogie can still be efficient and effective in Friday night’s game, it may just have to come on the back of shooting 20+ free throws.
Prediction: In a friendly pre-game jab at fellow own Robert Pera, Vivek will challenge him: if Pera can dunk the ball, Vivek will call the NBA League Office and forfeit the game. Pera’s first four attempts will come close but rim out. His next four will hit rim, but it’ll be obvious he’s getting a bit winded. By hour three, all fans of the Grizzlies will have gone home. The Kings will have gone back to their team bus, and the lights will beginning to shut off in the FedEx Forum concourse. A lone janitor will sit in the upper deck, apparently asleep and seduced into dreams by the constant clanging of the rim snapping back against the basketballs being crudely tossed against it. In hour six, Pera will make a left handed layup and scream into the dark “I did it!”; his team having lost the game by forfeit long before.
Kings: 93, Grizzlies: 91