On Friday night, before a sell-out crowd, the Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Sacramento Kings, 104–101. Memphis has now lost five straight games and hasn’t won since February 12 (against the Portland Trail Blazers before the All-Star Break).
The Grizzlies still hold a slim lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, as they fell to 28–31. The team has struggled without Jaren Jackson, Jr. (knee injury) and Brandon Clarke (hip).
And yet, with five consecutive losses, Coach Taylor Jenkins is still pleased with his team’s effort, especially in the final period. Jenkins said after the game, “Very proud of our guys. The way that we fought in that fourth quarter to give ourselves a chance to win a ballgame.”
He added, “I hit them after the game and said, ‘We have to play like that from the start of the game.’ I thought we came out playing pretty well in that first quarter, definitely could have played a whole lot better, but that second and third quarter we kind of just had a little let-down there. But that fourth quarter, just the intensity that they played with — the fight, the grit — that’s what we’re going to need right now.”
“The guys are finding a way,” Jenkins continued. “Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a win tonight — credit to the Kings. We threw a couple [of ] different things at them. They just made the right plays at the right time. Great passes to the roller, to shooters. They made the shots that they needed. We fell short a little bit with a couple of shots there in the fourth quarter and throughout the game, but the resolve and the competitiveness from our guys were great tonight.”
Dillon Brooks led Memphis with a season-high 32 points, before fouling out late in the fourth after playing nearly 40 minutes. Ja Morant added 20 points and 11 assists to mark his 10th double-double of the season. No other rookie in the league has more than five double-doubles of the season, according to Grizzlies PR.
Morant talked about how the team is processing the losing streak: “I feel like a lot of people are panicking; not us though — we know there are going to be bumps in the road. We know we’re going to face adversity. We’re just going to continue, keep our head high, keep positive energy, and just try to go out and get something good out of it. We’ve learned a lot from the games after the break, playing 48 minutes, having to compete, and knowing we have a target on our back.”
Josh Jackson led the Grizzlies’ reserves with nine points, three rebounds, and three assists. Jenkins spoke about Jackson's contribution to the team: "He’s [Jackson] getting better every single day. Continuing to find his comfort zone. As we’ve said, he just has to keep making an impact on the defensive end shooting the three, attacking downhill.
Jenkins added, "He’s playing with force on the offensive end, and he’s playing actively on the defensive end. That’s what we expect out of him. So the more he does that, obviously, for any of our guys, you make an impact on both ends that is winning basketball, you obviously earn more opportunities.”
The Other Guys
De’Aaron Fox led the Sacramento with 25 points, five assists, and four rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting, as the Kings moved to 25–34 on the season. Harry Giles III chipped in 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists on 8-of-14 shooting. Nemanja Bjelica posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Buddy Hield added a bench-high 14 points to go with four rebounds and two assists.
HBCU Night and Memphis Legend Zach Randolph Returned Home
WE LOVE OUR LOC!! 💜💛— LOC SoCal Alumni (@LocSocalAlumni) February 29, 2020
LeMoyne-Owen College Faculty & Staff members enjoying HBCU night at the FedEx Forum. The Choir sang, the drumline performed, and a few alum dropped in to say hi. #LOCMagicians #FedExForum#LeMoyneOwenCollege #HBCU #HBCUMemphis #HBCUNight #LOCFamily pic.twitter.com/FrA3ZM92xC