By: Morgan Ragan
The Sacramento Kings dropped their fifth consecutive game to the Memphis Grizzlies 99-89 Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Memphis has held their last eight opponents to an average of 85.8 points and they have won their last four visits to Sacramento.
The Kings played again without DeMarcus Cousins who remains out with a sprained ankle. Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas were the only Kings to score in double figures.
Gay returned from his an achilles injury and finished with 23 points and scored his 10,000th career point. Thomas led the Kings with 24 points and combined they had 7 turnovers.
Marcus Thornton has been an asset for the Kings with Gay and DeMarcus Cousins out but took two shots in 17 minutes.
When asked about Thornton’s playing time head coach Michael Malone went straight to the topic of defense.
“I’m going to start playing guys that are willing to defend and if you’re not willing to defend I can no longer be a hypocrite,” Malone said.
“I got the job in June and I preached defense. That’s what I believe in and we are one of the worst defensive teams in the league.”
Sacramento allowed Memphis to shoot 55 percent from the field and 14 fast break points off of their 15 turnovers.
Mike Conley played like an all-star as he scored 11 points in the third quarter and helped the Grizzlies outscore Sacramento 21-17. He finished with 27 points and 10 assists.
“He’s a guy that plays both ends of the floor and that’s becoming a rare bread in the NBA,” Malone said.
The Kings hit the road and will take on the Dallas Mavericks Friday night.
Isaiah Thomas didn’t guard Conley well tonight but the help defense couldn’t stop him either. Thomas had a great point about the Kings defense following the loss:
“It’s nothing coaches can do, I don’t know what it’s going take for us to understand we have to be a better defensive team for us to win any game.”
This roster does not have one player that’s known for a defensive game. Coaches can only teach so much defense before a team has to come together and find the fight for every rotation and every loose ball.
You can hear Morgan with Deuce & J-Ross from 12-3 p.m. on KHTK. Follow her on Twitter: @momoragan