The short-handed Sacramento Kings fell to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, 124-105. It was “all hands on deck” from the roster to the coaching staff, as it was announced earlier in the day that six players and several coaching staff would miss the game due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
Acting head coach Doug Christie announced 90 minutes prior to tip-off that Tyrese Haliburton and Chimezie Metu would be available for the Kings, bumping the number of active players up from the league minimum of eight to ten. Sacramento rolled out a starting five of Haliburton, Metu, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and Tristan Thompson.
Every player stepped up on the court tonight, and in the first half things looked really promising from the core who were able to play. Haliburton and Barnes steered the offense with key defensive contributions from Metu and Moe Harkless.
The Kings came out fast and furious, starting the game with a high energy intensity leading by as many as six in the first frame. A 14-2 run in the second quarter led by Hield catapulted the team up by as any as 15 points.
Eight turnovers plagued the final minutes of the second quarter as Memphis was able to fight back and capitalize on Sacramento’s mistakes, flipping the script and walking into the locker room with a 58-56 lead.
Neither cohesion or momentum could really be found opening up the third frame, falling by as many as 23 in the second half as G League help was poured into the rotation.
Sacramento’s two-way player and rookie Neemias Queta checked into the contest just before the end of the second half, becoming the first Portuguese-born player to log minutes in the NBA.
Frankly, this was everything that the Kings could have expected in such unfortunate circumstances. Haliburton and Metu both logged double-doubles, and developing players like Queta, Jahmi’us Ramsey and Robert Woodard II were to be anticipated in the opportunity they were given tonight. Sacramento will have a day to regroup before Sunday’s contest - where they can hopefully add a sense of normalcy to their roster.