by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSbc-G2LS00&w=560&h=315]
After a rocky start, the Memphis Grizzlies blew tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings’ wide open after halftime, winning 113-81 at Sleep Train Arena. The 32-point margin of defeat is the largest at home for the Kings this season. The previous high was 25 points in a Dec. 16 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
The Kings lost control in the third period, allowing the Grizzlies to turn the corner and outscore them 36-20. The Grizzlies were led by Wayne Ellington, who came alive following intermission to score 10 of a career-high 26 points in just under three minutes of action in the third period. With the loss, the Kings fall to 13-22 overall and 10-8 at home.
Notes and Analysis
- Holy Wayne Ellington. The Grizzlies reserve guard caught fire and the Kings had no answer. Ellington set a new career-high with 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the field and 6-for-7 from distance. Once he got going, there was no stopping him.
- John Salmons looked like the player who lit the Nets up in the first quarter of Saturday’s game in Brooklyn. The veteran wing finished with 17 points on 3-for-4 shooting from long range, but he only handed out two assists and failed to grab a single rebound in 30 minutes of action. On the defensive end, Salmons handled Rudy Gay like few Kings small forwards have. Gay finished with eight points on 2-for-10 shooting in 33 minutes of play.
- Jason Thompson was solid offensively, finishing with 12 points in 24 minutes of action. His defense was decent, but he has to do a better job on the glass. Thompson finished with just four rebounds in 24 minutes, but sat from the mid-third quarter on when Smart went deep to his bench.
- After a great run of double-doubles, DeMarcus Cousins came back to earth tonight, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds and four turnovers. The Grizzlies threw a lot of different looks his way and Cousins never really got it going.
- Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette had horrible games. Thomas started and finished with nine points, but he went 2-for-12 from the field and 0-for-7 from long range in the loss. Jimmer had a game for the ages, finishing 0-for-7 from the field and hanging a big goose egg on the board in 20 minutes of play.
- Thomas Robinson scored eight points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds in the loss. The rookie did most of his damage in scrub time when the Kings were far out of contention.
- After missing 16 of the Kings first 34 games this season, Tyreke Evans returned to the floor tonight in Sacramento. He finished with five points in 12 minutes of action and looked rusty. With two days to practice before the team’s next game, look for Evans to play a larger role in Thursday’s match-up against the Mavs.
- Stat of the Night: The Grizzlies shot 55-percent (11-for-20) from 3-point range tonight in the blowout win. They also out-rebounded the Kings 44-37 and out-assisted them 29-14. Not a good night for the purple and black.
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Can the Kings make the Grizzlies play hero ball?
Not tonight. The Grizzlies shared the ball an incredibly effective rate, dishing out a season-high 29 assists while committing just eight turnovers. Their ball movement led to a higher shooter percentage, which we’ll get to in the following question. Meanwhile it was the Kings who struggled to move the ball tonight. They racked up just 13 assists while turning the ball over 14 times. Their poor assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t because of a lack of trying. The Grizzlies just controlled the pace to their liking and also played the stout defense they’re known for.
2. Can the Kings keep Memphis below 42 percent shooting for the game?
The Kings defense managed to slow the Grizzlies offense to start the game. In the first quarter, Memphis shot just 34.8 percent from the field on 8-of-23 attempts. But the Grizzlies found their rhythm in the second period and never looked back. For the rest of the game, Memphis shot 53.4 percent from the field on 31-of-58 shot attempts. The Grizzlies were especially red-hot from three-point land, making 11-of-20 attempts from beyond the arc tonight. Wayne Ellington scored 19 of his career-best 26 points in the second half.
3. Will the Grizzlies force the Kings into making careless errors?
The Grizzlies came into tonight’s game forcing opponents to commit at least 10 turnovers in 135 straight games. That streak extended to 136 as the Grizzlies made the Kings cough up the ball 14 times. Sacramento’s ball movement really stagnated in the second half, where they able to only muster up three total assists to eight turnovers. They recorded just one assist in the fourth quarter.
Quotes of the Game
John Salmons on what wasn’t working for the Kings:
Our defense was kind of soft. Our last two games, our defense hasn’t been how it’s been all year. We’d been playing hard on defense, rotating well – the last two games we haven’t been doing that.
Tyreke Evans on how his knee feels:
I feel the same. No soreness or anything like that, so that’s pretty good.
Memphis Head Coach Lionel Hollins on Wayne Ellington:
He’s on fire. There’s nothing else to say, but he shot the lights out of them. He’s had a couple of games like this. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait 25 games for him to have another one. He really shot the ball extremely well.
Wayne Ellington on his career night:
I hit my first two shots. I started feeling pretty good from there, so it just carried over to the second half.
Marcus Thornton missed his fifth-straight game due to a sprained left ankle.