The Sacramento Kings’ longest win streak since 2007 hit a bump in the road this week with back-to-back losses. The Memphis Grizzlies, on the other hand, just keep cruising along.
Sacramento concludes a four-game road trip Thursday night against a Memphis team that has won 17 straight on its home court and eight in a row there in the series.
The Kings (5-3) averaged 111.2 points over a five-game win streak – the second-highest average in the NBA over that time – but sputtered to 95.5 points in dropping their last two.
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Sacramento fell to Dallas 106-98 on Tuesday, allowing the Mavericks to shoot 52.6 percent in the second quarter and erase a 44-20 deficit.
"That’s two games in a row where we haven’t defended well at all after defending really well to start the year off," coach Mike Malone said. "To allow them to shoot 48 percent is unacceptable. To have that many turnovers, 17 turnovers in the second half, is unacceptable."
Former Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay and center DeMarcus Cousins continued their excellent play. Gay scored 26 points with eight rebounds and eight assists, while Cousins added 16 points, 11 boards and five assists.
Gay and Cousins rank near the top of the NBA with 22.8 and 22.1 points per game. Cousins is also among the league’s best with 11.1 rebounds per game.
They and the rest of the Kings could find scoring to be a bit more difficult Thursday against the NBA’s best defensive team.
Memphis (7-1) has allowed 89.4 points per game while forcing opponents into an average of 18.0 turnovers.
That defensive effort, along with the steady contributions of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, has helped Memphis stay unbeaten at home in the regular season since a 110-96 loss to the Mavericks on Feb. 5.
Gasol leads the Grizzlies with 17.8 points per game, while Randolph is averaging 16.6 to go along with 10.8 rebounds. Mike Conley and Courtney Lee have been major contributors as well with both scoring more than 15 points per game. Lee also is shooting 61.9 percent from 3-point range.
The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 107-102 on Tuesday, but despite the early success, coach David Joerger still sees plenty of issues with his team.
"Our goal is to be elite, and we have to practice and such, and we have to play every minute as such," Joerger said. "I don’t think that we feel good that we played well, but we played well enough to win. The exciting part is that, hopefully, we will play better and put it all together … there is a level of frustration, but then again, we are 7-1.
"To be elite, we’re going to have to get better."
Memphis has won seven straight and 14 of 16 overall matchups with the Kings. In the most recent meeting, the Grizzlies won 99-89 in Sacramento behind Conley’s 27 points and 10 assists Jan. 29.
Cousins did not play in that one, and he has experienced his share of troubles against Memphis. In 13 matchups, he is averaging 15.0 points – tied for his worst mark against any team.
Sacramento has lost 16 of its last 19 visits to Memphis, with its last win coming 115-106 on Feb. 20, 2009.