It was a game that was thrilling, hard-fought and in the end frustrating if you are a Sacramento Kings fan. The Kings went into Memphis tonight and played arguably one of their best defensive games of the year that ultimately ended in a 91-90 defeat at the hands of the hometown Memphis Grizzlies. Tonight was one of those hard-fought defensive battles that any true fan of the game should really appreciate. The difference in the game came down to a combination of experience and questionable, if not shoddy, officiating.
In addition to continuing his run of bad shooting with a 5-of-14 performance, Isaiah Thomas also got absolutely clobbered twice in the last five minutes of the game and was denied the opportunity to shoot free throws. Needless to say those blown calls could have had a huge impact on the result of the game.
Rudy Gay was a spark for the Kings in the early fourth quarter and ended the game with 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. It was no wonder that coach Michael Malone decided to put the ball in his hands. While dealing with incredibly stiff defense, Gay appeared to get slapped across the right arm with 1.9 seconds left in the game. Instead of shooting two free throws down by one point, feferee Marc Davis called a jump ball which the Grizzlies win.
The most interesting matchup of the game turned out to be the heavyweight matchup in the middle between DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol. Gasol’s size obviously frustrated Cousins, as he shot 6-of-20 on the night from the field. The numbers also point to struggles for Gasol as well. Cousins shot 13 free throws in the game and made 10 of them, finishing with 22 points, 17 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 blocked shot. Marc Gasol finished with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocked shots.
Now, the blame for this loss doesn’t completely fall on the refs. In the end, the Kings shot 0-of-6 from the field in the final four minutes and only scored two points off a pair of free throws. The Kings were up by seven points with 4:09 left in the game and simply weren’t able to close it out. The Grizzlies also played incredibly well in this game. Mike Conley, who honestly should be an All-Star, lit the Kings up at the end of the game en route to a 25-point, six-assist game.
The game went back and forth for 48 minutes with both teams exhibiting very good defense and in the end it was the veteran poise that was the deciding factor in the Grizzlies getting the win and advancing their record to 20-19 ahead of their next matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. Meanwhile the Kings record drops to 14-24 going into what will be one of their toughest road tests of the season when the Kings travel to Oklahoma City to take on Kevin Durant and the Thunder on Sunday.