The weird run of big losses had to stop at some point, and it made perfect sense to see the Memphis Grizzlies bouncing back after three consecutive losses by beating the Sacramento Kings 97-83 and re-claiming the second spot in the Western conference.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 18 points, followed by Jeff Green with 16 points in one of his better games in recent weeks, 15 from Zach Randolph and 10 from Courtney Lee. Marc Gasol did score just 8 points but finished with 11 rebounds and 6 assists as well, while also grabbing plenty of attention with his ripped jersey moment, maybe getting some inspiration from Wrestlemania.
The Kings, bad enough without DeMarcus Cousins, are also in tank mode, which means this was a ‘gimme’ game for the Grizzlies, who could use all the help they could get after losing that second spot in the West for 24 hours after holding on to it for so long. They did most of their distance creating in the first half, and things didn’t get easier for the Kings after Rudy Gay was elbowed (unintentionally) in the face by Gasol, forcing him to leave the game.
So while the Kings are trying to figure out what draft pick they’re going to get, the Grizzlies are trying to realize what will get them going again. This was their best defensive performance in quite some time, although the Kings aren’t the best of indications. The key might be more about a more fluid offense, something they’ve been struggling with for years, and Jeff Green, mercurial and unexpected, might hold the key to success in that aspect.
It’s good to win. It makes things a lot easier to digest. When you move the ball like that, it gives everybody a chance to get a feel. You’re a lot less predictable. It gets contagious. It’s the way we should always play. We played Memphis Grizzlies basketball, which is defense. The bigs were up on screens and guards got through screens. That’s what helped our offense.
The Grizzlies now hold a 0.5 games lead over the Rockets and have three home games with the Thunder, Wizards and Pelicans before going on a tough road trip that includes playing in Utah, LA against the Clippers and the Warriors before the season ends with a home game against the Pacers. Far from an easy way to finish, which makes their hold on the second place in the West a very shaky one.