That escalated quickly. After an evenly played first half, the Sacramento Kings entered halftime down by just six points. Then the roof caved in. The Kings completely fell apart in the third quarter and watched the Grizzlies catch fire. Sacramento put up just 36 points in the second half (equal to Memphis’ third quarter total) and treated the 11,531 in attendance to some absolutely brutal basketball. The Grizzlies took the easy 32-point victory, 113-81.
ELLINGTON GOES WILD – On a team as good as the Grizzlies, there are plenty of guys who you’d figure to have strong games. Undoubtedly, Wayne Ellington isn’t high on that list. But the Kings tendency to let unknown players have career games reared its ugly head. Ellington (10-11 FG) was unstoppable, particularly in the decisive third quarter where he scored 10 of his career-high 26 points. On the whole, the Grizzlies strong outside shooting (11-for-20 from three-point range) really punished the Kings for their turnovers and missed rebounds.
THE RETURN OF REKE – Tyreke Evans (12 MIN, 5 PTS, 1-3 FG, 3-4 FT, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK) made his return to the team after missing the past 11 games with a sore knee. Because of the lopsided nature of this game, there isn’t much that could be gleaned about Evans’ role and chemistry with the team. He played just over 12 minutes and didn’t have time to show much. Evans entered the game to a loud ovation and briefly salvaged a (once again) struggling second unit with a shot of energy. Tyreke did appear willing to move the ball and finished a great sequence of ball movement with a lay-up. But it was clear that Keith Smart didn’t want to push it with Evans, especially with the game out of hand. So it remains to be seen how Evans will fit back in.
SALMONS CONTROLS GAY – One of the Kings lone bright spots was the effort of John Salmons, who was a standout on both ends of the court. Right from the tip, Salmons (30 MIN, 17 PTS, 7-12 FG, 3-4 3FG, 2 AST, 1 STL) showed a commitment to shutting down Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies leading scorer. Quickly, Salmons frustrated Gay (2-10 FG) with tough, physical defense. Salmons was just as effective as a scorer, and his performance of late is reminiscent of the Salmons who emerged as a playoff stud for the Bulls and Bucks. The Kings just need someone, anyone from the perimeter to make shots, and right now, Salmons is that player.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Isaiah Thomas (29 MIN, 9 PTS, 2-12 FG, 0-7 3FG, 4 AST, 1 TO) played an awful game, as he was unable to find his stroke and chose to force the issue on some occasions. Over the past week, Thomas has been given the keys to the Kings, and he hasn’t seized the opportunity. It doesn’t bode well for him with Evans now back and Marcus Thornton returning soon … DeMarcus Cousins’ run of big games came to screeching halt. Cousins (27 MIN, 10 PTS, 3-9 FG, 8 REB, 1 AST, 4 TO) struggled on both ends going against skilled big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The poor play also brought out some of his frustrations, as he was slightly more animated with refs than he was on the road trip … The Kings shot an ugly 36.8 percent from the floor, particularly aided by Francisco Garcia (0-3 FG) and Jimmer Fredette (0-7 FG) … Hate to rain on the Thomas Robinson parade, as the rookie did put up a nice stat line (21 MIN, 8 PTS, 4-8 FG, 12 REB, 4 TO, 1 STL), but it was compiled mostly in garbage time. It was good to see him crash the boards, but he still looked out of control, and you almost had to laugh when he dribbled the length of the floor and missed a wide open lay-up in the final seconds.