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Grizzlies vs. Kings: Final Score 121-117

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Grizzlies outshoot Kings 121-117

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies took on the faltering Kings at home, and won their twelfth game out of the last thirteen at the Grindhouse. George Karl and Rajon Rondo have engineered the quickest pace in the league and it amplifies an already devastating half court point of attack in second-time All-Star Demarcus Cousins. Boogie’s had a stellar season thus far, expanding  his range beyond the arc and averaging over 32 points a game in the month of January. Despite the exciting improvements, the Kings entered tonight’s in tenuous fashion, having lost their three last games after winning the previous five.

As for the Grizzlies, they came into the game during a transitional period. Memphis has been rediscovering its defensive prowess in the second quarter of the season as it evolves into more of a ball-moving, floor-spacing versatile and modern offense. During this moment of change, the spotlight has focused perhaps most harshly on Marc Gasol and Jeff Green: two integral pieces in the construction of this modern offense. More than ever, Marc has been tapped as the engine of the offense while Jeff Green has been demanded to play up to his potential. It was a delight to see these two, often criticized for a lack of drive or effort, lean into the game tonight and power the Grizzlies to victory.

Marc had his paws all over this game right from the beginning. Marc dominated the beginning of the game, winning the tip, hitting a show-and-go half-hook, blocking a shot on end that led to a Courtney Lee three on the other. The Grizzlies hearkened to their grit and grind era of defense at the start of the game, holding the Kings to eight points halfway through the first quarter as Marc tallied three blocks. Courtney Lee came out guns-a-blazing, sinking two threes (both off Gasol assists). Jeff Green also contributed, attacking the basket and piling up ten points before the second quarter.

Marc played solid defense on Demarcus, showing Boogie more weight, strength, and savvy than he’s seen in recent games, but Cousins remained effective until rolling his ankle midway through the second quarter. Cousins soon left the game, but later returned and seemed to roll his ankle again before it rolled a third time beneath a heavy Gasol crashing to the floor for a loose ball. At the half, the Kings scored fifty-one points: not a great showing by a Grizzlies team trying to reassert itself as a defensive powerhouse. Nevertheless, the Grizzlies scored the most points in a first half this season.

In the second half, the Kings mounted a furious comeback despite a gimpy Boogie, scoring forty points in the fourth quarter and producing another nail-biting finish for the Grizzlies. Rudy Gay, trading block poster boy, had a solid game showcasing his skills and hitting various devilish shots on his way to 21 points on 6-12 shooting, going 66.6% from deep. Green had a better night, however, connecting on 11-16, raking in a game-high 29. Green haters rejoice, however, relishing his -3 +/-.

I for one, dear readers, am happy that we’re back to the good old heart-exploding games instead of the ones that make you want to turn it off in the second quarter and hate-hump your body with three consecutive hour-long episodes of The Bachelor on your friends’ parents’ Xfinity Go account. (I’ve heard this is a thing some of us might be doing.)

The Kings couldn’t overcome the Grizzlies blazing-hot prowess on offense tonight. They scored 100 points with just under ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and ended up with 121 points like a got dang functional modern offense. It was a sight to behold. The Kings made it a close game, forcing the Grizzlies to sink free throws down the stretch. Ultimately Sacramento’s surge fell short, behind Marc Gasol and Mike Conley: who combined for the Grizzlies final fourteen points scored. Mike in particular came out of the woodwork late, having gone scoreless for the first 43 minutes, but scoring 8 in the final five minutes of the game.

The Grizzlies take on the Pelicans in New Orleans on Monday, February 1st.