Entering the capital of California, the Memphis Grizzlies were looking to start off its west coast road trip with a W against a team looking for its first. Grizzlies-Kings was headlined by a star-studded point guard matchup of Ja Morant vs. De’Aaron Fox. But as the game went on, even Ja Morant was a mere supporting actor to some surprising, and one not so surprising, leading roles.
Steven Adams got things going with a nice alley-oop finish from a Ja Morant lob. Speaking of Ja, he started off fast with 6 of the Grizzlies’ first 8 points including an unconventional setup move to lull his defender to sleep before finishing at the rim.
But with 6:55 left in the game, it was Sacramento up 8-16. The Grizz defense didn’t seem locked in with its rotations early on and the offense looked sloppy as a whole.
Then in came Tyus Stones! 8 quick points cut the lead to 21-23. The effort picked up on both ends of the floor as well. The defense looked more disciplined, and Memphis attacked the rim getting to the free-throw line. A Desmond Bane transition lay finished the quarter on a high putting the Grizzlies up 32-28 after 1.
The 2nd quarter started how the 1st ended. A 46-40 lead with 6:01 left was fueled by energy from the bench. Jake LaRavia hit a 3 and made some nice, hustle plays. Brandon Clarke stayed aggressive going to the rim – don’t hate on him taking a wide open corner 3 (lol). Desmond Bane caught fire hitting a pair of 3s. The defense still wasn’t perfect keeping the Kings in the game. But the rotations looked tighter and the effort was better. Dillon Brooks even made a couple 3’s.
The lead dwindled to 51-50 led by the smartest player in the NBA, De’Aaron Fox – if you get that joke, you a real one. He’s having a crazy good start to the season and continued it tonight. Fox made Steven Adams look Lost like the TV show, but what followed was a work of art. Aquamane moved through Sacramento with a Euro-step worthy of the Louvre.
Desmond Bane followed up with another dirty buzzer-beater to put Memphis up 63-56 at half.
Though a 7-point lead at half was decent cushion, all of Memphis was just waiting for the Grizzlies to switch into 6th gear. Once again, it was Steven Adams setting the tone down low making the Kings look like pawns on the offensive board. A wide-open Ja 3 stemming from an Adams offensive rebound put the Grizzlies up 72-61 with 8:13 left in the quarter.
Then Sacramento lit up. Two back to back Kings alley-oops electrified the Golden 1 Center. A Dillon Brooks technical foul sent waves through the crowd, but the Man Born in the Dark and Air Canada weren’t having it. They pushed the Grizzlies to a 94-83 lead heading into the 4th.
Let’s fast forward. 99-92 Grizzlies with 9:22 left. I tweeted, can the Grizzlies shut the door? Well a three-point barrage definitely helped. Desmond Bane continued his heater. Jake LaRavia hit a couple big threes. Speaking of Jake LaRavia, he was phenomenal.
Starting the 4th quarter with a triple, Jake kept his energy up on both ends. He scored 10 points in the 4th and finished the game with 13 points, 9 rebounds (!), 1 steal, and 1 assist. The 13 points is great. But I love the 9 rebounds and 1 steal. His constant activity was exactly what Memphis needed to shut the door. Add a clutch Dillon Brooks 3 and more Aquamane being Aquamane, and you get a 125-110 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Grizzlies travel to Salt Lake City, Utah for a back-to-back Saturday and Monday night. Let’s hope Memphis can continue its success.