Well, we figured there would be an adjustment period with the return of Zach Randolph, right? Unfortunately this appears to be the case, as the Grizzlies dropped their third of the last four overall last night to the Kings in Sacramento, 119-110. The scary part is that lately it's been the defense -- the steadying presence when shots aren't falling -- that isn't up to snuff. At all.
After the jump, the gory details.
The Kings were shooting over 60 percent at halftime and finished the game at 53 percent from the floor. They didn't hit a bunch of threes (only 4-of-17), and didn't shoot especially well from the charity stripe -- 66 percent, only one more make than the Grizz. Essentially, they just attacked and continued to attack throughout this one, and Memphis acquiesced for the most part, save for a few brief runs that were quickly answered and squelched by Sacramento.
Ominously, the Grizzlies set the tone for the night's proceedings by nearly allowing 40 points in the opening frame; the real killer, though, that lingered over the rest of the contest was an 8-0 Kings run in basically the final minute of the first half. This came after Memphis had cut a 13-point second quarter deficit down to two, sending the Grizz into the half down double-digits once again.
From there, the second half was simply all back-and-forth, the Grizzlies unable to mount any sort of defensive momentum or strung-together stops, and by the hot hand of Marcus Thornton (31 points, 7 boards, 6 dishes) and DeMarcus Cousins' 23 points in 25 minutes, Memphis never really got closer than they were near the end of that second quarter.
With Randolph back in the starting lineup, continuing to work the kinks out (6-for-15 from the floor tonight), and the impending insertion of Gilbert Arenas somewhere into this rotation, the Grizzlies' period of flux isn't going to cease in the near future. The offense, really, was for the most part good enough tonight, and though Sacramento boasts youthful talent and now a three-game winning streak, this sort of defense from the Grizzlies -- with the low steal and average turnover numbers that, when higher, propel this team to another level -- can't happen right now. Not when Memphis needs something to remain status quo on the floor, until the rest can catch up.
**For the Kings side of the story, do visit Sactown Royalty.