After a promising 7-1 stretch, the Sacramento Kings are falling back to earth after dropping three games in a row.
The Kings were ice-cold from the 3-point line in their 124-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and fell two games below .500 on the season.
De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento with 23 points while rookie Tyrese Haliburton chipped in with 22. Jonas Valanciunas had 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Dillon Brooks finished with 22 for the Grizzlies, who had seven players score in double figures.
Perimeter shooting was the difference-maker in this game. Memphis hit on 42.9 percent of its 3-point attempts, while the Kings shot 8-of-33. Fox and Buddy Hield particularly struggled, with the pair combining to go 2-of-16 from the 3-point line.
Sacramento was outplayed from the opening tip.
The Kings got off to a slow start, hitting on just three of their first 12 shots and trailed 15-4 four minutes into the game.
Memphis shot 50 percent from beyond the arc over the opening 12 minutes. The Kings struggled from deep early, missing their first 10 attempts. Haliburton hit the team’s first 3-ball with 28 seconds left in the quarter, cutting the Grizzlies’ lead to eight after one.
Trailing by 13 early in the second, it looked like Sacramento would make a game out of it when reserve Cory Joseph sparked an 8-0 run that cut the Memphis lead to five.
Unfortunately, that was as close as the Kings would get for the rest of the game. Brooks and Valanciunas combined to score 10 of the next 12 points for the Grizzlies, helping them extend the lead.
Sacramento shot 37.8 percent from the field and hit just 4-of-24 3-point attempts as Memphis took a 62-46 lead into the break.
Any hopes of a comeback were cut short after the Kings gave up 37 points in the third quarter. The Grizzlies held a 20-point lead going into the fourth and never looked back. Although Sacramento’s reserves made things closer in the closing minutes, the game was never in doubt.
It’s been a rough three-game stretch for the Kings, who were missing Marvin Bagley III for the second straight game due to a calf injury. Sacramento has enough shooting to know that this was just an off night, but head coach Luke Walton needs to get his squad back on track defensively.
Similar to the game against the Orlando Magic, Memphis got way too many easy looks off penetration, finishing with 68 points inside the paint.
It won’t get any easier for the Kings, who host the high-scoring Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
What are your main takeaways from the loss?