Grizzlies Turn Up Defense to Top Kings
Memphis 84, Sacramento 78
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Feb. 15 (Ticker) -- Pau Gasol provided the offense early before the rest of his teammates came through with the defense late.
Gasol scored all 24 of his points in the first three quarters before the Memphis Grizzlies held the Sacramento Kings to just six baskets in the final period en route to an 84-78 victory.
"It was huge for us to come back home and pull out the win," Gasol said. "We struggled on the road, and we felt as a team we wanted to come back home and keep things positive going into the break."
Headed to his first All-Star game this weekend, Gasol made 10-of-16 shots and 4-of-5 free throws in the first 36 minutes before getting shut out in the fourth quarter.
However, Gasol did record two of his four blocks in the final quarter, when Kings shot just 24 percent (6-of-25) from the field and did not score in the final five minutes
"We were right there," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We just have to find a way to finish. We shot poorly tonight and we were still just two points down down the stretch."
Rookie Francisco Garcia's jumper with 5:13 left gave Sacramento a 78-77 lead before Shane Battier gave Memphis the lead for good with a 3-pointer 40 seconds later. The Grizzlies did not make another basket but preserved the lead by blocking three shots down the stretch.
"We gave ourselves a great chance," Adelman said. "We had some shots blocked where we should've maybe finished them on the other side of the basket. But I'm not discouraged because we played well enough to win, even with the way we shot."
Gasol got a piece of Ron Artest's 3-pointer with 2:51 to play, Eddie Jones blocked Kevin Martin's fast-break layup with 1:24 left and Atkins rejected Mike Bibby's jumper on Sacramento's ensuing possession. Memphis finished with 14 blocks, including seven in the fourth quarter.
"Blocked shots don't happen often," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. "They happened tonight because (Sacramento) had a lot of offensive rebounds, which was a result of the shot clock being low. You look for something every night to help you win the game. You don't look to get 14 blocks every night, but that was the thing that helped us win."
After Atkins missed a 3-pointer, the Grizzlies made one last defensive stand as Kenny Thomas dribbled the ball off his foot for a turnover with 21 seconds remaining. Jones and Atkins then made four free throws to seal the victory.
"The first game back from a long West Coast trip is always the toughest," said Battier, who tied a career-high with five blocks to move into third on the team's all-time list with 376. "We had to gut this one out and we did. It was a great defensive effort. To hold the Kings, a high-scoring team that can easily put up 120 or 125 points, to 78 is a great team effort."
Martin scored 14 points to lead six players in double figures for the Kings, who lost for the second time in seven games.
"We wanted to get the win and really pull it out tonight, we just didn't convert," said Artest, who finished with 10 points on 4-of-20 shooting. "I should have taken it to the hole. We should have stopped taking the outside shots and gone to the hole more."
Jones chipped in 13 points and Battier 10 for the Grizzlies, who won their third straight overall.
"You want to feel good going into the second half of the season after you get some rest," Jones said. "Right now it's time for us to start feeling good again. We had our stretch where things didn't go our way. We lost a lot of close games, but now it's turning itself over. Now we're winning these close games and we're feeling good."