Bad games happen in the 82-game regular season of the NBA.
This was a very bad game for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The stage seemed to be set for a very good performance for the team. Mike Conley was making his heroic return from injury several weeks early. Former embattled Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger was making his return to Memphis with his very dysfunctional, 9-16 Sacramento Kings team.
And the Grizzlies came out and laid an egg.
The Kings won a sloppy offensive game by a score of 96-92 in a match-up that saw inefficient offense from both sides. It was certainly not the prettiest game to watch.
So, let’s get into how a bad Kings team beat the Grizzlies on an off night.
The great center match-up was not as great as expected.
Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins could very well be the two best centers in the NBA.
And while both had some stat lines that look good form the surface, it was far from either man’s best performance.
Gasol finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks, but shot a dismal 6-for-18 from the field. He also missed all four of his three-point attempts, an asset that has made Gasol so dangerous throughout this season.
Cousins also had an inefficient night. He also missed all of his three-point attempts (three of them) and shot only 7-for-20 from the floor. He accounted for 22 points and 9 boards in a wining effort. But he was not his usual self, as he was in foul trouble and fouled out in the fourth quarter.
This was not as grand a match-up as some of us dreamed up, but both teams were off and their stars were at the nucleus of that result.
Conley looked as if he rushed back.
Conley came back very quickly from an injury and we saw the repercussions of that in this game. He was given a solid workload with 29 minutes but struggled against the weak backcourt of the Kings.
Conley shot only 2-for-7 from the field, had only 8 points, and looked as if he was not his normal self.
He did distribute well with 6 assists, but he was outplayed by guys like Darren Collison and Garrett Temple from the Kings. Those are guys that Conley would normally dominate.
Here’s to hoping that he looks like the real Mike Conley soon.
The Kings’ supporting cast was just better than Memphis’ in this game.
That is a shocking statement to make.
Garrett Temple was the best player on the floor in stretches in this game. He finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists while hitting 3-of-6 outside shots. He provided the Kings with the outside presence they’ve needed.
Kosta Koufos was very good for Sacramento in this game. He messed around and got himself a double-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds, with 3 blocks on top. He was also ultra-efficient, shooting 7-of-11 from the field. The Grizzlies had little answer for him.
Those two stepped up big for a struggling Kings offense, and the Grizzlies struggled to contain them. But the team’s defense wasn’t that bad.
The Kings shot 39% from the floor and their perimeter attack was largely negated, as they shot only 29% from downtown.
But Memphis’ offense was stagnant.
Along with Conley’s struggles, JaMychal Green (6 points), Troy Williams (2 points), and Vince Carter (2 points) were all non-factors in an offense that failed to move the ball.
That has been an issue for the Grizzlies, who rank 27th in the league and average only 20 assists per game as a team. In this game, they registered only 18. Good shots are a result of offensive flow and good ball movement. The Grizzlies failed to do that in this game.
A few bright spots
There were a few guys that stepped up and delivered some solid performances on an off night.
Tony Allen was a much bigger part of the offense than normal, scoring 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while also grabbing 9 boards. Maybe that is a further sign of Grizzly offensive struggles, when “The Grindfather” is taking offensive matters into his own hands. But he was solid nonetheless.
The second unit also had some nice moments. Zach Randolph, Andrew Harrison, and Troy Daniels were all solid.
Randolph had a very efficient and well-rounded stat line with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists in 27 minutes played. There are many other flashier names in the race, but don’t be surprised if Z-Bo is right there in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation come season’s end.
Daniels continued his better perimeter shooting with 4 trey-balls and 13 points. Harrison also provided a nice punch, with 11 points in 19 minutes on only 4 shot attempts.
While this was a tough loss, the Grizzlies have still won seven of their last nine games.
Their next contest is on Sunday night when they welcome Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, and the Utah Jazz to town for a match-up of good-not-great Western Conference teams.
A win will solidify the Grizzlies at the No.5 spot in the West. A loss will drop them to sixth, where the Jazz currently stand.
This should be a good contest, with several interesting match-ups.
Here’s to hoping for a better Memphis performance.