MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — After a trio of blowout losses, the Memphis Grizzlies got back in rhythm for their own double-digit victory.
Mike Conley scored 19 points, Marc Gasol added 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Grizzlies snapped a three-game losing streak Friday night with an 85-69 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
The Grizzlies lost 103-82 San Antonio, 99-73 against the Los Angeles Clippers and 104-83 to Dallas in their last three games.
“It was a must-win game,” said forward Marreese Speights, who had 10 points and nine rebounds filling in for the injured Zach Randolph. “We knew that before the game. We knew that (Thursday) when we had a team meeting. We knew we couldn’t lose at home and get blown out like we did the last three games.”
All five Memphis starters were in double figures as Tony Allen had 14 points and nine rebounds, plus six assists. Allen also had three blocks, while Rudy Gay scored 15 points.
The tailspin, amid trade talks involving Gay and other distractions, such as Gasol and Conley being the only players invited to a dinner with new owner Robert Pera, led to worries from fans and the team meeting Speights mentioned.
The session and Thursday’s practice helped changed the mindset, several players acknowledged.
“I think we played with a sense of urgency early,” Conley said. “You could see guys when bad plays were made, we were still running back on defense. If we turned it over, we’d run back on defense and not worry about it, and go on to the next play. Instead of holding our heads and feeling down about every situation we were in, we just kept playing through it.”
The Kings seemed to do little to resist the Grizzlies change in attitude. Sacramento shot poorly through most of the game, finishing the night at a season-worst 34 percent and hitting only two of 10 shots from beyond the arc. That translated into a season-low in points for the Kings.
DeMarcus Cousins was the only Sacramento player in double figures with 22 points, plus 12 rebounds as the Kings saw their two-game winning streak end. Isaiah Thomas had nine points and five assists as the Kings recorded a season-low nine assists in the game.
“We couldn’t find the right energy or rhythm we needed,” Kings coach Keith Smart said, later adding that his team “had a lot of missed shots, easy paint shots.
“We just couldn’t finish plays. We had layup opportunities, close paint shots. We just could never get ourselves into anything that was going to be easy for us to break any runs.”
Memphis played the game without Randolph, who sat out with a back strain suffered in the Grizzlies’ last game at San Antonio. Smart had thought that could benefit his team by concentrating on Gay, who he believed would try to pick up the offensive loss. And Cousins did play well against Speights. There was just no other help from the Kings.
“There’s no difference,” Cousins said of Randolph not playing. “They are still a good team, and they showed it.”
Both teams started slow, but Memphis was able to build the advantage to double digits with a 10-0 burst to open the second quarter. During the span, the Kings missed their first 10 shots in the frame.
That propelled Memphis to a 42-30 lead behind nine points from Allen and eight from Gasol, who shot only 2 of 7 from the field. He was 4 of 7 in the second half.
No Kings players were in double figures in the first half, either, with Cousins leading the way with seven points. But Cousins was 3 of 9 from the field, part of the Kings shooting 29 percent from the field, including 6 of 25 in the second quarter.
“We weren’t making shots in the game, and it kind of lingered throughout,” said forward John Salmons, who had six points and four rebounds. “We just could never get in sync offensively.”
The poor shooting continued for the Kings in the third period. Sacramento had only four field goals near the midway point of the quarter, all from Cousins.
Eventually, in the late stages of the third, the Kings would get over the 30 percent shooting mark for the game. Meanwhile, Memphis maintained its double-digit lead, once reaching 18 points in the third.
That helped Memphis carry a 60-47 lead into the fourth quarter. When Travis Outlaw connected on a 3-pointer with 8:40 left, Sacramento had gotten the Grizzlies’ advantage under double digits at 64-56.
The Kings never could cut into Memphis’ lead anymore, and Memphis was able to snap its losing skid.
“When you score only 85 points, you need to hold the other team down,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “I thought we were fairly consistent throughout the whole game.”
NOTES: The Grizzlies had not lost four straight since last January. … Cousins entered the game averaging 19.4 points and 11 rebounds in the last five games. … Speights started his second game of the season. He scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in his only previous start. … The Kings have lost six straight in Memphis. … In the fourth quarter, Memphis G Tony Allen committed a foul, but Gay stepped to the sideline to inbound the ball. Official Ken Mauer handed Gay the ball before realizing the ruse with an assist from Smart, who was hollering that it was Sacramento’s ball. … Kings G Tyreke Evans, who was 14 of 21 in his last two games, was 3 of 10 from the field, scoring eight points. . The Kings dropped their 10th game in 11 road contests against Western Conference opponents. . The Kings’ 30 points in the first half was a season-low for a Grizzlies opponent in any half.