The Grizzlies took on the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Undeniably, the most important part of this game was the homecoming of the Memphis faithful Zach Randolph, and to a lesser degree Vince Carter. This game brought back memories of success and triumph in years past, but alas there was a game to be played.
Sacramento brought a supposedly nice, young core of solid draft picks with a splash of veteran presence. But they are not very good at all, even worse than Memphis, so this made for a good matchup.
The Grizzlies started off slow, taking ill-advised shots early in the shot clock. Coach Bickerstaff had seen enough just 2:17 into the first quarter. After the timeout, the Grizzlies wrinkles were ironed out, running in transition and find the open man.
The Grizzlies exploited the on-ball defense of the Kings, taking the ball right at the rim. For maybe the first time all season, the Grizzlies were in the bonus before their opponent. Even Ben McLemore got in the game, so that should give you an idea of how well the first quarter went. Memphis ended the quarter on a 26-6 run, and scoring 30 points in the first quarter for the third straight game.
In typical Grizzlies fashion, after leading 30-17 to start the second quarter, by the 7:27 mark the lead was cut to 32-27 and Bickerstaff called timeout. Just 15 minutes into the game, the Grizzlies had already played 10 players, though some rotations looked to be extreme mismatches in favor of the Kings. The Kings turned it up on the defensive end to start the second quarter, but the Grizzlies also missed some bunnies that have to be made to keep leads. With just two points scored in six minutes, the Grizzlies lost the lead at the 5:50 mark.
Memphis actually finished the quarter strong to not surrender the lead totally, after 24 minutes the game was all tied at 40. The Grizz fell in love with the three in the final minute of the half, ending the half shooting just 16.7% from three (3-19) and 30.4% overall (14-47). Fortunately, the Kings shot just 37.2% (17-44). Memphis vs. Sacramento ladies and gentleman.
To put it lightly, the third quarter started with more of the same, but closed on a strong note. The second unit of the Grizzlies finally took the ball towards the rim a little more frequently, though the Grizzlies attempted an uncharacteristic amount of threes. After leading by as much as 15 with 3:12 left in the quarter, the Kings cut it to eight by the end of the quarter. Memphis shot entirely too many threes, just 6-27 (22%) through three quarters, and were bailed out by atrocious basketball by a really bad Kings team.
After a lottery-bound Grizzlies second quarter, the latter half of this matchup showed real potential for Memphis. Though, as mentioned, the Grizz settled for threes way too much, there were spurts of team defense and offense. The fourth quarter was another solid quarter, mostly played by reserves on both teams. Ben McLemore decided to show out a little bit, playing actual basketball and taking some Mario Chalmers minutes.
McLemore must be committed to a long term lease in Memphis that he can't get out of. All the sudden he acting like an NBA player— McCarty Maxwell (@McCartyMaxwell) January 20, 2018
Dillon “The Future” Brooks recorded his first 20-point effort of his career, finishing with a game high 22. The Unpredictables (Andrew Harrison, Jarrell Martin, and Deyonta Davis) also had their share of contributions. Missing from the spotlight versus the Kings were Tyreke Evans and the recently strong JaMychal Green. This was an encouraging win for this team, despite quiet games from Gasol, Evans, and Green, combining for just 26 points.
The Grizzlies defeated the Kings 106-88, capped by a dominant 39 point (season high) fourth quarter. That’s a three game win streak, folks. Memphis finished the game shooting 44%, won the rebounding, turnover, assist, steals, and blocks contests. That always makes for a good recipe. The Grizz travel to face the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center tomorrow (Saturday) night.