The Memphis Grizzlies’ eighth straight loss and 14th in the last 15 games was a close one, but the bottomline was the same.
“We lost. That’s pretty much it,” rookie forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said after scoring 11 points in Memphis’ 99-96 setback against the Sacramento Kings at FedExForum Friday night.
The Grizzlies had a chance in the closing seconds to overtake the Kings, but had a call go against them.
With 4.3 seconds left, Memphis appeared to trap Sacramento’s Buddy Hield, who scored 26 points, along the sideline in the backcourt when whistles blew. One official called a jump ball and another called a foul on Grizzlies’ guard Shelvin Mack. After the crew got together, the foul was upheld, and Hield hit one of the two ensuing free throws for the final margin.
“I don’t understand how that works to be honest with you,” said a dejected J.B. Bickerstaff, the Memphis coach. “The referee that was on the call, called a jump ball, and then he was overruled by another official. It was clear to everybody in the arena that he called a jump ball.”
For Sacramento, the win was a welcome relief after a two-game slide. The Kings climbed above .500 (25-24) and — while they are in 10th in the Western Conference — they remain only two games behind the sixth-place team.
De’Aaron Fox (22 points) provided the cushion to help the Kings down a weird stretch in the closing seconds.
A layup by Mack cut the Kings’ lead to 96-94 with 32.8 seconds left. But on the ensuing possession, Fox broke loose and hit a step-back jumper near the top of the key that gave Sacramento a 98-94 advantage.
“De’Aaron made a heck of a shot there to put us up four, which was terrific. But we battled,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger, who characterized the game as “a crazy win.”
Fox added: “I just made a tough shot. That’s all it was.”
For the Grizzlies, the latest in its string of losses came as the team tries to hold itself together amid trade rumors involving star Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Omri Casspi led the Grizzlies with 18 points, while Conley added 16 points and nine assists. JaMychal Green finished with 14 points for the Grizzlies, who have won only one game since the day after Christmas.