Sunday, lazy Sunday. After laying an egg on national television against Detroit on Friday, the Sacramento Kings picked up right where they left off Sunday. Playing a stout, yet struggling, Memphis Grizzlies team, the Kings stumbled out of the gate, shooting an ugly 32 percent in the first half while falling down by 13. Things got worse before they got better, as Memphis pushed its lead to 20 just two minutes into the third. A now typical late game run helped the Kings close the gap, but the Grizzlies maintained their advantage and walked out with a 97-86 victory.
MALONE MAKES A POINT – As has been the mantra for the Kings all year, this season will not be measured by wins and losses. Instead, instilling a new culture that emphasizes effort and defense is most important. With that in mind, Coach Michael Malone decided to make a strong point Sunday. With his starters sputtering badly in the second half and the team down 20, Malone brought down the hammer — all five hit the bench just 4:23 into the third quarter. Only one (Luc Mbah a Moute) ever saw the floor again. Clearly, Malone was fed up with a team that he believed was showing lackluster effort, and with the reserves playing well, it was a good time to make a statement.
EARLY GAME WOES – Horrendous shooting was the name of the game for Sacramento early on. Over a 7:40 span during the first and second quarters, the Kings made just 1-of-11 field goal attempts. When you play a team as strong defensively as Memphis, digging an early hole is a death sentence. Memphis, meanwhile, outshot the Kings on the night, 55.6 to 37.9 percent.
OUTLAW LEADS THE COMEBACK – On a night when Mbah a Moute started over John Salmons, a third small forward outproduced them both. Travis Outlaw, who shined in the preseason but has yet to emerge in season, was the Kings offensive leader Sunday. Outlaw (17 MIN, 18 PTS, 6-9 FG, 2-2 3FG, 4-4 FT, 6 REB) entered the game when Coach Malone sent all five starters to the bench, and from that point on, Outlaw did his best to get Sacramento back in the game. Outlaw scored all 18 of his points in the second half, as the Kings trimmed a 20-point deficit to just three. Alas, a wide-open three by John Salmons that could have tied the game went long, and the Grizzlies ran away with the game. But Outlaw made a strong case for more playing time in the wide-open small forward landscape.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Ben McLemore (19 MIN, 5 PTS, 2-6 FG, 5 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO) is now 5-for-20 since moving into the starting lineup. The rookie seems to be playing tight and may be overwhelmed by the bigger role … Memphis outrebounded Sacramento, 49-35 … Not a great start for Mbah a Moute (26 MIN, 4 PTS, 1-6 FG, 3 REB, 2 AST), who couldn’t carry over his solid shooting from the Pistons game … Patrick Patterson missed the game with a sore knee, and when Chuck Hayes had to exit with a face injury, the door opened for Hamady Ndiaye (25 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-2 FG, 6 REB, 1 BLK) to play. He saw a career high in minutes, and while his offense is basically non-existent, his athleticism and activity is something that could be of use to the Kings.