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Undermanned but scrappy Grizzlies fall to Sacramento Kings, 103-94

You would think with all the injuries that the Memphis Grizzlies have had so far this season, the team might catch a break.

Hosting the Sacramento Kings on Monday, Jan. 29 at the FedExForum, they fielded only seven healthy players. The team signed Matthew Hurt from the Memphis Hustle to a 10-day contract, but the Kings ultimately prevailed, winning 103-94.

Hurt (6-9, 235), averaging 25.5 points and 8.4 rebounds in the G League, made an immediate impact, connecting on his first two pro shots, both three-pointers. The 23-year-old Minnesota native, undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft, had an impressive collegiate career at Duke, earning 2020-21 All-ACC First Team honors.

Coach Taylor Jenkins praised the team’s spirit: “We’ve got one of the best competitive spirits in the league. Our guys love to compete. While I’m disappointed we didn’t win, I’m proud of how they’ve battled all season, especially in the last two games.”

The Grizzlies started strong, taking an early 19-8 lead, with Jacob Gilyard’s three-pointer boosting them to their largest lead (33-18) at the end of the first quarter. Memphis made seven three-pointers in that period.

In the second quarter, Memphis led by as much as 12 points, but the Kings rallied with a 10-0 run, narrowing the gap to 44-42 and forcing a Grizzlies timeout. The Kings outscored Memphis 29-17 in the quarter, but the Grizzlies maintained a 50-47 lead at halftime, with Domantas Sabonis grabbing 16 rebounds.

Santi Aldama’s four-point play early in the third quarter extended Memphis’ lead to 60-54. However, Harrison Barnes’ three-pointer gave the Kings their first lead (64-62). The Kings ended the third quarter ahead, 75-71, with Sabonis totaling 23 rebounds.

De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 23 points, followed by Kevin Huerter’s 17. Barnes and JaVale McGee contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively. Despite being outrebounded 51-37, the Kings secured the win, with Sabonis achieving a career-high 26 rebounds and 20 points.

The Grizzlies, young and battling fatigue, fought valiantly. Jaren Jackson Jr. led with 22 points, Aldama added 16, and both Scotty Pippen Jr. and Matthew Hurt scored 12 points in their home debuts. Xavier Tillman contributed 10 points.

GG Jackson commented on the team’s defense: “We need to know our opponents better. We lacked scouting, so as players, we had to adapt on the fly. I focused on challenging players like [Malik] Monk in various matchups.”

Jaren Jackson spoke on the game’s enjoyment: “I always have fun. It’s the grind of the season. Watching everyone, like [Matt Hurt] and [GG Jackson], perform is great.”

Addressing frustration over fouls, Jackson said, “You get frustrated, but there’s no time to dwell. You talk to the refs calmly and understand the rules, especially about initiating contact.”

Pippen, on his first game in Memphis, shared, “Playing at home felt great. I’m getting more confident and adjusting to the pace of the game.”

Jenkins reflected on the game: “I had a blast despite the outcome. We held a strong offense to 103 points, and our effort was phenomenal. There’s room for improvement, especially in the fourth quarter.”

Next, the Grizzlies face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 1 and host the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 2 at the FedExForum. Both games start at 7 pm CDT.

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