Stifling Grizzlies Defense Pushes Kings To New Low


Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Several Kings should be well rested for Saturday’s game in Charlotte, as hardly anyone showed up Friday. Taking to the road in Memphis, Sacramento came out with no energy, and the team was completely overpowered by the Grizzlies suffocating defense. The Kings never seriously threatened the Grizzlies comfortable cushion, and the final score of 85-69 represented a season-low in points for the Kings.

BRICK CITY — The Kings horrifying 34.1 percent shooting from the floor can largely be attributed to tough Memphis defense, but Sacramento couldn’t find one guard to make a shot from the perimeter. Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans never got anything going, and the Kings plethora of bench guards — Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton, Aaron Brooks — combined to go 2-for-12.

THE RIDDLE OF JIMMER — Jimmer Fredette provided plenty of material for discussion, and he played less than 12 minutes. Jimmer (12 MIN, 0 PTS, 0-4 FG, 3 TO) was curiously absent from the floor in the first half, a move made despite the fact that the Kings couldn’t muster anything on offense. Keith Smart changed his approach in the second half, and Fredette responded by playing some of his worst basketball in the past few weeks. You can’t make excuses for Jimmer, he played awful when given a chance, but Smart has absolutely no basis for benching him at this point. Fredette leads the Kings in points per minute, Sacramento scored 30 points in the entire first half, and yet Jimmer didn’t play. As Bryan eluded to a few weeks ago, the Kings need to clear this logjam and the most logical player to be moved is Aaron Brooks. It’s nothing serious against Brooks, but he’s just not the fit for this developing team right now.

STRUGGLING THORNTON — It would be pretty tough to deem the Marcus-Thornton-off-the-bench set-up a success. With his poor shooting performance Friday, Thornton (20 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-6 FG, 2 REB, 2 STL) is down to 40.5 percent on the season. What’s even more troubling is the fact that, in games like the one in Memphis, Thornton is more or less invisible on the court. He seems to float around the court with no real purpose, no real role in the Kings offense. And that’s a mistake. Thornton is having a down year, compounded by his time missed dealing with personal issues. But Sacramento is clearly not utilizing him properly. It again reflects on the Kings guard-heavy roster — everyone is having to adjust and to be honest, nobody is thriving. Something’s gotta give.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — DeMarcus Cousins (38 MIN, 22 PTS, 9-19 FG, 12 REB, 1 AST, 3 TO, 2 STL, 1 BLK) is probably the only Kings player you could say played well. Cousins faced a tough matchup on both ends in Marc Gasol and brought his hard hat. He was the Kings only source of offense, the only player to reach double figures in scoring … Travis Outlaw (16 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-6 FG, 4 REB) got some rare playing time in the second half as Smart dove deep for offense. Outlaw knocked down the Kings only two three-pointers on the night … John Salmons (31 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-6 FG, 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK) didn’t enjoy as much success defending Rudy Gay as he did in the last meeting. Gay only had 13 points but made 6-of-11 from the field … Making matters worse, the Kings made just 9-of-15 from the free throw line and turned the ball over 15 times.