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Kings 99, Grizzlies 96: Too close for comfort

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The Kings didn’t make it easy, but they escape Memphis with a W.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings broadcasts should come with a doctor’s warning that it may be dangerous to watch the game if you have a heart condition. Despite leading by double digits multiple times, the Kings kept letting the Memphis Grizzlies creep back into the game, but despite playing one of their more sloppy games of the season, Sacramento was able to escape Memphis with a win to go to 25-24 on the year and avoid dipping back below .500. It was only Sacramento’s second win of the season scoring under 100 points, the first of which came on Oct. 24th against... the Memphis Grizzlies.

This game was sloppy, with 17 turnovers committed by the Kings and 16 for Memphis. 47 fouls were called, and both teams struggled at times to find any semblance of a rhythm. One guy that did however was Nemanja Bjelica, who had his best game of 2019 as he tallied a 17 point, 11 rebound double-double to go with 3 blocks and 2 assists, all while being a perfect 4-4 from distance. Bjelica had been struggling mightily as of late, but his extra day of rest seems to have done him good as he came out aggressive on both ends of the floor. He hit multiple big shots and had a huge save at the end. While he did end up fouling out (on a quesitonable call), the Kings would not have won this game without him.

Buddy Hield led the Kings in scoring with 26 points on 6-9 (nice) from three. He probably should have shot even more, but this team doesn’t seem to realize when it has a hot hand sometimes. Still, he did take the most shots on the team tonight, and that should probably be the case every night. His 7 rebounds also shouldn’t be unappreciated, as he had some huge ones late.

Marvin Bagley III didn’t have the most efficient game and definitely force the issue a bit too much, but his hustle on the offensive glass especially helped get the Kings some key buckets down the stretch. Marvin is still fairly raw, but his natural abilities are incredible. The guy didn’t even have a great game and still managed to get 14 points and 9 rebounds. He easily won the matchup against Jaren Jackson Jr., who scored 11 points but only had 3 rebounds and also got severely blocked by Bagley on a post up.

De’Aaron Fox also seem to benefit from his game off. While it took a little bit for him to get going, he found his groove near the end of the first half. He did have a game-high 7 turnovers, but offensively he was aggressive in a way he hadn’t been for a few games now. He finished with a game-high 22 points, but most impressively, he essentially closed out the game by putting the clamps on Mike Conley on one end and then hitting a stepback jumper on the other on consecutive possessions.

The game got weird at the end though. While Fox’s jumper should’ve ended it, there was still some excitement to be had. The Grizzlies scored a quick two and with a few seconds left in the game and no timeouts to be had, the Kings inbounded the ball to Buddy Hield, where he was immediately surrounded on the top sideline by Marc Gasol and Shelvin Mack. While Mack hacked at Hield from behind, Gasol got his hands on the ball in the front and one official signaled a foul while another signaled a jump ball. Fortunately the call on the floor of a foul stood after a replay review and Buddy went to the line to shoot two free throws. Hield only made one of two however, giving the Grizzlies a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime, but Mike Conley’s attempt wasn’t close, and wouldn’t have counted even if it had gone in anyway as it was released after the buzzer.

The Kings should consider themselves rather fortunate to win that game, as they did not play their best, but fortunately neither did Memphis. Mike Conley scored 16 points but shot just 6-15 from the field. Memphis’ bench, led by Omri Casspi’s 18 points 8-11 from the field and JaMychal Green’s 14 points, was a bright spot, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Grizzlies up as they lost their 8th game in a row and their 14th of their last 15th.

The Kings now have a chance to somehow salvage this road trip with a 3-3 record as they head to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Sunday. They’ll have to play a lot better than they did tonight if they hope to do so.

For the opponent’s perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.

Random Observations

  • Iman Shumpert has been awful lately and tonight was no different. Shump finished the game with 1 points on 0-6 from the field. He did manage to get 5 assists but he has fallen back to earth precipitously. At this point, it’s time to question whether or not he should be starting at all.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein had a so-so game. At times he forced the issue on offence, but he managed to get a whopping 5 steals and ran the floor for some timely dunks. His absence in the fourth quarter as he picked up his 5th foul was definitely noted as Harry Giles simply didn’t have the experience to deal with a veteran like Marc Gasol.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic was announced as a starter for some reason but did not start. That was weird. Bogdan did not have a great night, scoring just 5 points on 2-9 from the field and missing all five of his threes.
  • Justin Jackson joined Shumpert in the ohfer department, shooting 0-4 in his 12 minutes. They were good looks too but just didn’t go down. He did have one really nice play where he got the ball in the corner and drove down the baseline before dishing to Bagley for the dunk after he drew the defense’s attention.
  • Speaking of Bagley, he probably gave Tony enough footage to do another 90 seconds on his second jump just from tonight alone.