Memphis center Steven Adams and super-guard Ja Morant were forces in the paint that the Sacramento Kings could not offset at the FedExForum on New Year's night. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Take what Ja Morant said about Memphis center Steve Adams, and what Adams said about the Grizzlies’ All-Star guard, add the statement the team’s bench play made and you have the essence of how the Grizzlies beat the Sacramento Kings 118-108 at FedExForum on New Year’s Night.

In the second game of a home back-to-back, the Grizzlies dominated the paint, scoring 64 points to the Kings’ 44.

“The main squeeze is Ja (Morant). He is just tough to stop, mate,” said Adams, detailing why the Grizzlies tend to be so good at scoring in the paint. “So, getting him to stop going … you can’t say, ‘Stop scoring in the paint, dude.’ You can’t. They’re probably just trying to emphasize there, but it’s still a tough job because you got Ja just going.

“He is ridiculous. He’s a tough dude, and we have constant movement too. All our offense is just for us to attack the paint. (Desmond Bane) is in there as a three-point threat. That means that there’s a hole in the defense that we can actually attack; so there’s no shift. It’s tough, man, especially when we are flowing. We’re a big transition team, even if it’s a slow transition. Those are just tough to defend.”

Ja Morant doing damage in the paint. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Morant led the Grizzlies with 35 points (eight rebounds) in his second consecutive 30-plus-point performance. Adams, who had 21 rebounds against New Orleans, tied a career-high with 23 more in the win over the Kings. He now is the only player in franchise history to haul in at least 20 rebounds in consecutive games. Adams also tied the club record for rebounds in any two-game span (44, last accomplished by Jonas Valančiūnas on Feb. 28-29, 2020).

“I don’t think anybody else wants to go down there and battle. It’s just a man amongst boys at that point,” said Morant on the value of Adams.

“He’s the man in the paint on both ends, whether it’s a defensive or offensive thing. He’s been very big time for us, back-to-back, 20-plus rebound games, which we know we need, and it’s something we have to do … he took it upon himself to go in and do that for us. …

“We still have to help him on the board. We can’t just say, ‘Here, Stevo.’ We’re going to get a rebound, but we know he’s down there somewhere and eventually, he’ll get it.”

The Kings are one of only three teams to defeat the Grizzlies at FedExForum this season. It was the third time the two teams have met this season, with the road team winning the two previous games.

Dillon Brooks had 15 points and, notably, only two fouls. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Memphis started very slow, with their first six points via the free-throw line. Jaren Jackson Jr. made the team’s first basket hitting from three-point range five minutes into the game.

With the Kings up 16-9, the Grizzlies sprinted on an 11-0 run to forge ahead (20-16). Memphis led 27-26 at the end of the quarter.

The Kings took their first lead (35-34) of the second quarter on a shot by Malik Monk. Coming off the bench, reserve point guard Tyus Jones hit back to three-pointers to put the Grizzlies ahead 46-40.  The resurgent Kings (19-23) kept battling back and were within a point (59-58) at the half.

The Grizzlies controlled the third quarter, which ended with them ahead 91-87. Memphis surged early in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 14 points (113-99). The closest the Kings got from there was seven points (113-106) with 2:51 left in the game.

Memphis entered the game with its bench short. Bane, the Grizzlies’ starting shooting guard, was held out in light of his recent return from an extended injury absence. Brandon Clarke, a key bench contributor, also was a no-go, along with Ziaire Williams (sore knee.) It was Clarke’s first game missed this season.

David Roddy had five points, four rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes off the bench. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Tyus Jones led the bench effort with 18 points (eight assists). John Konchar, who has been playing better lately, had 12 points.

“Next man up mentality,” said head coach Taylor Jenkins on the play of the bench. “Those guys (are) seeking opportunities and want to get better on a night like tonight where we needed different guys to step up. They were big because we knew their bench was a big priority to their success, and our bench did a phenomenal job winning that battle.”

John Konchar watches his shot after shooting over Harrison Barnes. Off the bench, he had 12 points, five rebounds, two assists in 28 minutes. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

The Grizzlies controlled the third quarter, which ended with them ahead 91-87. Memphis surged early in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 14 points (113-99). The closest the Kings got from there was seven points (113-106) with 2:51 left in the game.

The Kings were led by De’Aaron Fox with 19 points (six assists). Domantas Sabonis had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Monk had 18 points off the bench.

Memphis starters Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. played solidly. Brooks had 15 points and, notably, only two fouls. Jackson had 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Next for the Grizzlies is a two-game, back-to-back on the road. They face the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday (Jan. 4) and the Orlando Magic the next evening. The next home game is against the Utah Jazz on Sunday (Jan. 8).