Grizz drop the ball in New Year’s Eve loss to Sacramento Kings, 123-92

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As the calendar year ends for the Memphis Grizzlies, hope is on the upswing.

On New Year’s Eve the Grizzlies hosted the Sacramento Kings. The game marked the healthiest that the team has been all season, but it didn’t result in a win. The Kings dominated the Grizzlies (123-92).

Head coach Taylor Jenkins on what went wrong said, “Yeah, got to give them a lot of credit and the kings they’re a heck of a team. They had a great game plan, they double-teamed our guys, thought we moved the ball pretty decently. It’s hard to win when you shoot 36 percent, I mean, we missed tons of shots in the paint and missed open threes.

“Just one of those nights where their aggressiveness dictated a little bit of our offense. I thought the ball got a little sticky at times against the blitz. We didn’t make the early pass as much, then when we did, we missed some shots. So, give them a lot of credit, they played really welltonight.”

Marcus Smart and Luke Kennard each played their first games in a while. Kennard last played on Nov. 11 and Smart last played in Memphis on Nov. 10. Derrick Rose has been in and out of the lineup this season. All three were available to play against the Kings. But it will take some time to get everyone playing together again, said Desmond Bane.

“Sometimes during a game it might look great and other times it might look like we haven’t played together,” Bane said. “So, who knows? I mean, we’re just going to continue to work. We played with a lot of these guys before, so we know their game and their tendencies. So, I don’t anticipate it taking too long.”

Memphis (10-22) was able to stay close to the Kings in the first quarter. With 1:35 left in the quarter the game was tied at 26. The Kings would end the quarter with a five-point lead (36-29). Int h blink of an eye in the first two minutes the Kings opened a 12-point lead (41-29). The Kings lead the Grizzlies (70-58) to end the first half.

The Kings would dominate the second half and would lead by as many as 22 points in the third quarter. They were able to get second chance points and connected on open three-point shots with ease. The Kings owned the Grizzlies on the boards 59-34. The Kings connected on 16 of 33 three-pointers.

Two former University of Kentucky players Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox had their way with the Grizzlies. Monk had 27 points and connected on 4 of 5 three-pointers.  Fox had 24 points and made 3 of 8 three-pointers.  Domantias Sabonis dominated the boards with 21 rebounds to go with his 13 points and 12 assists for a triple double. 

The Kings (19-12) had three other players in double-digit scoring.  Davion Mitchell had 12 points, Harrison Barnes finished with 11 points and Keegan Murray had 10 points.  The Kings shot 48 percent from three-point range,

The Grizzlies had three players to finished with 17 points, Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Kennard. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 18 points and Smart had 12 points. . The Grizzlies only shot 36 percent from the field and only 30 percent from three-point range.

Still, the team is getting back to good health and there’s hope.

Kennard on how he feels and being back said, “I’m pretty good. Shot up pretty well. But overall, I felt good, and [about] the minutes that I played. I want to give credit to the training staff. They really pushed me throughout this rehab and showed me a lot of things that are going to help me throughout my career. I give a lot of thanks to them just for getting me back out there and feeling good and being ready to go.” 

On getting everyone on the same page Morant said, “That is tough to do. We had the most players in the league this season. We are playing a lot of games.  We just had a back-to-back and have another one coming up. It is tough to have that practice time. You don’t want to tear down the player’s body too much. It is going to be a process.  The good thing about it, we have been around one another for a while. We know each other play and their strengths.”

Next up for the Grizzlies is a pair of games this week at the FedExForum. First up will be a meeting with the number one overall pick in the year’s NBA draft Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are having a great season, but Wembanyama is one of the leading prospects for Rookie of the Year. The Spurs are in Memphis on Tuesday Jan. 3 at 7 pm. On Wednesday Jan. 4 at 7 pm the Toronto Raptors will pay a visit to Memphis.