By: Malaika Bobino
Sacramento, CA – The Memphis Grizzlies road trip hasn’t been easy. And once they arrived at Sleep Train Arena, the Kings made sure they had to play hard until the final buzzer.
As the clock was running out, the final play was a three-point shot by Marcus Thorton blocked by Marc Gasol at the buzzer. The Grizzlies 89-87 victory came down to the final seconds. Gasol was scoreless in the fourth quarter but made the key play for Memphis’ win. He finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks.
“I got lucky (on Thornton’s block),” said Marc. “He pumped fake and I didn’t jump. I’m not much of a jumper anyway, the switch worked.”
Trailing by one point Mike Conley penetrated the lane and got the easy layup to give the Grizzlies an 86-85 lead with 30 seconds left in the fourth. Kings coach Keith Smart was hoping his team would penetrate on the final play and not go for the three-point shot.
“You have to drive that, you have to turn the ball and go,” Smart said. “Marcus needed to turn the corner and get himself into the paint. We didn’t need a winner. They were obviously going to switch any pick-n-roll that came together. For that, you take the ball to the basket and try to create something.”
Despite shooting only 38.5 percent from the field, Sacramento played a tight game against Memphis. DeMarcus Cousins led the way in scoring with 22 points and nine rebounds. But due to foul trouble he only lasted 30 minutes. Isaiah Thomas picked up the pace in the second half and added 17 of his 18 points. Both Toney Douglas and Jimmer Fredette combined 27 points off the bench.
“We’re gearing up for the playoffs,” said Quicney Pondexter. “We’re happy with this win. This is the NBA, getting any win is tough in this league. We executed down the stretch and grinded this one out.”
Conley was in a zone to lead all scores with a game-high 25 points for the Grizzlies. He cut through the Kings defense all night and provided more open looks for his team in the second half. Pondexter tied his career high with 17 points and Toney Allen added 12. Memphis currently holds the fifth spot in the Western Conference and don’t care who they see first.
“It doesn’t matter who we see in the first round of the playoffs,” Zach Randolph said. “Regardless, we’ll be ready no matter what, whether we stay where we are or move up, we’ll be ready.”