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Recap: Grizzlies come close, but drop their eighth straight as late calls go against them

By Published: January 27, 2019 6:35 PM CT
<span><strong>Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) handles the ball ahead of Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, at FedExForum. Fox scored a 19-footer in the last minute that helped carry the Kings to a 99-96 victory.</strong> (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)</span>

Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) handles the ball ahead of Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, at FedExForum. Fox scored a 19-footer in the last minute that helped carry the Kings to a 99-96 victory. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

The Memphis Grizzlies were close this time. Ending the losing streak was a real possibility despite De’Aaron Fox’s 19-foot jumper with 11.8 seconds left that gave the Sacramento Kings a 98-94 lead.

Mike Conley scored on a layup with 6.1 seconds remaining. When Buddy Hield tried to bring the ball upcourt, he was trapped along the sideline by Marc Gasol and Shelvin Mack.

Whistles blew, and for a fleeting moment, the chance seemed to fall the Grizzlies’ way. One official called a jump ball and another called a foul on Mack. After the crew got together, the foul was upheld, and Hield hit one of the two ensuing free throws for the 99-96 Kings win.

And the Grizzlies had found another way to have a game slip away from them – their eighth straight loss and the 14 of the last 15.

“I don’t understand how that works to be honest with you,” said a dejected J.B. Bickerstaff, the Memphis coach. “The referee that was on the call, called a jump ball, and then he was overruled by another official. …It was clear to everybody in the arena that he called a jump ball.”

Conley added: "That call is what it is. I felt we got the jump ball, but stuff like that happens.”

But it was just the latest bad break for a team that has only won once since the day after Christmas and continues to deal with losing in heavy doses. All the while coping with the uncertainty on how long its two top players – Conley and center Marc Gasol – will be a part of the franchise.

The Grizzlies – as we all know – announced earlier this week that they were entertaining suitors interested in trading for one or both of them – a clear sign the team is headed for a rebuilding mode.

On this night, however, the pair played more a support role to reserves, who brought a spark and energy to the game. Omri Casspi scored 18 points, making a respectable 8 of 11 shots. That percentage was helped by the forward having five dunks. JaMychal Green had 14 points, while Joakim Noah (returning after a three-game absence for “personal reasons”), Mack and Jevon Carter all made contributions.

“The competition level of our bench guys,” Bickerstaff said when asked about the positives from the game, later adding: “Our bench, around that 6-minute mark of the third quarter, gave us huge life. They played with a ton of energy. …I thought they energized the building and gave us an opportunity to get back in the game.”

The game actually was close throughout with 12 lead changes and seven ties, the bulk of them in the first half. But down the stretch, the Grizzlies again were a victim of bad breaks.

“That call is what it is,” Conley said. “I felt we got the jump ball, but stuff like that happens. We were more concerned with the plays we didn’t make leading up to that point that allowed that call to decide a big part of that game.”

TELL 'EM, EP

I can't say for sure that this Tweet coincided with the jump ball vs. foul call late in the game, but the timing and sentiment seem to be about right.

 

 

HECKLING THE HECKLER

During the second quarter, official Tony Brothers got into an exchange with a heckling fan over what the spectator believed was a non-call for traveling against Sacramento. Brothers told the fan he had been calling for the NBA for decades (in his 25th season to be exact) and he knew the rules better than the fan. Eventually, Brothers told the man he was coming to the fan’s job tomorrow to heckle him.

VIEW FROM AFAR

Kings coach Dave Joerger has a bit more personal perspective on the trade talk regarding Conley and Gasol. Joerger sat on the bench in a couple of roles during the pair’s most successful times. He understands the significance of their tenure with the organization.

“Whatever they’re going through, those guys are my friends,” Joerger said before the game. “I feel like Mike and Marc and Zach (Randolph) and Tony (Allen) have been pillars. I always put Lionel Hollins in that group as well. …My heart is always with those guys and those guys are good friends of mine, and you want the best for them and their families as well.”

NOT ROBOTS

Meanwhile, Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff shed light on the mood regarding the trade talks and how – while everyone sounds the mantra of “it’s just a business" – there are personal emotions in such situations. He said the only thing in the team’s control is how they perform in a given moment. “A lot of people like to just consider players superhuman, emotionless beings, but they are emotional, and there are distractions, there are things that hang over their heads that make it difficult to do your job. Our message to them is focus on the now. ..Focus on the relationships you have with the teammates you have here. The relationship you have with the fans, the support they’ve given and stay in that moment. Time will tell what happens down the line.”

ANOTHER MAN DOWN

Starting forward Garrett Temple left the game late in the first quarter after a collision left him with a left shoulder injury. He  did not return. “X-rays were negative,” Bickerstaff said. “He’s going to get an MRI (Saturday), and we’ll see from there.”

THE OTHER GUYS

Buddy Hield had 26 points, De’Aaron Fox finished with 22 to lead the Kings. Rookie Marvin Bagley III, who started the first game of his NBA career in Sacramento’s loss earlier in the week at Toronto, returned to the bench and finished with 11 points, making 6 of 15 shots.

TIP-INS

  • Marc Gasol,, who recorded a triple-double in Wednesday’s loss to Charlotte finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season.
  • Bruno Caboclo, signed by the Grizzlies to a 10-day contract on Thursday, made his first appearance, playing 8 minutes and missing all four of his shots.
  • Casspi has scored in double figures nine times this season and led the Grizzlies in scoring three times.
  • The Kings won the season series 3-1, marking the first time Sacramento has won a four-game season series between the teams since the 2002-03 season.
  • Both teams scored 29 points in the third quarter. Memphis had been outscored in the third the previous 12 games.

FINAL WORD

"We lost. That’s pretty much it. When I walk out of here, I’ll be alright.” – Grizzlies rookie forward Jaren Jackson Jr.

Topics

NBA Memphis Grizzlies Sacramento Kings Dave Joerger Mike Conley
Clay Bailey

Clay Bailey

Clay Bailey, a lifelong Memphian, has worked as a reporter in the city almost four decades. He concentrated on suburban coverage. He also is a freelance sportswriter for the Associated Press.


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