In his third game since being hired, George Karl is already paying dividends. The head coach and his reenergized Sacramento Kings (20-35) upset the Western Conference powerhouse Memphis Grizzlies (41-15) in a stunner, by the final score, 102-90.
“It had a physicality to it of a playoff game in a lot of ways,” Karl told the media after the game. “I mean there were a lot of bodies hitting each other, and our guys stood up, stood their ground at an extremely high level.”
The Kings weathered 21 turnovers, questionable whistles and frontcourt foul trouble for the win. DeMarcus Cousins logged only 24 minutes, but Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore picked up the offensive slack, scoring 28 and 16 points respectively.
Every Kings starter reached double figures, and Cousins finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two turnovers.
“I told him after the game, I said, ‘DeMarcus, you’re 16, nine and six and you have a bad game,'” Karl noted. “To me, that’s an awful good sign. 16, nine and six, there’s not many guys in basketball who can put that number up in 24 minutes.”
Sacramento as a team shot 48.8 percent from the floor and 6-of-16 from behind the arc. They outpaced the Grizzlies in rebounds 47-38 and assists 24-22. The Kings held the Grizzlies to 40.5 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers of their own. Memphis’ backcourt combined to score merely 21 points.
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 20 points, including a 62-foot heave as time expired before the half. Marc Gasol chipped in 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Kings improve to 2-1 under Karl. They face another challenge in the San Antonio Spurs when the visitors come to Sacramento on Friday.
Notes and Analysis
- Rudy Gay took off in the second, scoring 13 of his team-high 28 in quarter. Gay shot an impressive 12-for-20 from the field and add six assists and five rebounds in the win.
- Ben McLemore started the game 1-of-5 from the field, but his confidence never waned. McLemore finished with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting in his 32 minutes of action.
- Jason Thompson continues to fight for his position. George Karl turned to the longest tenured King to start, and the eight-year man out of Rider answered the call. Thompson scored 10 points, added 11 rebounds and blocked four shots against the talented Grizzlies front line.
- DeMarcus Cousins let Zach Randolph get under his skin and the results were not good. Cousins did the bulk of his scoring damage late, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the deciding fourth quarter. The All-Star center added nine rebounds, six assists and one kicked chair in his 24 minutes of foul-plagued basketball.
- Reggie Evans made an appearance off the Kings bench and did what Reggie does. The veteran ripped down a game-high 11 rebounds in 27 minutes of action after not playing in the last four contests.
- The point guard situation will remain cloudy for Sacramento as they await the final word on Darren Collison. The tandem of Ray McCallum and Andre Miller held their own tonight, combining for 14 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists.
- Stat of the Night: For the second time in three games, the Sacramento Kings turned the ball over more than 20 times and won a game.
Quote of the Game
George Karl on the side effect of wins
“The feeling of winning helps them. There’s a juice in there. I hate to use the word ‘drug,’ but winning is a drug to competitors and to athletes. And these guys should feel awful good about what they did tonight.”