The Memphis Grizzlies' tough defense from earlier this season has softened - a trend that started against the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings look to extend Memphis' problems on the defensive end when they visit FedExForum on Tuesday night.
Memphis (3-7) suffered a 101-96 overtime loss to Milwaukee on Friday, its fourth defeat in a row. Since a 90-79 win over Golden State on Nov. 3, the Grizzlies have gone 1-5 while surrendering 107.3 points per game - a stretch that began with a 100-95 loss at Sacramento on Nov. 5.
During that span, the Grizzlies are allowing 22.0 more points per game than they gave up over their first four contests.
Poor rebounding has played a major role in Memphis' defensive problems, as the club has been outrebounded by more than eight per game. On Friday, the Grizzlies were beaten 62-36 on the glass - 23-8 on the offensive end.
"Those 23 offensive rebounds are going to stick you eventually, and they did in overtime,'' said Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni, whose team's 39-23 second-quarter lead was its largest of 2008-09. "It just took a little longer. They outworked us where it was most important, 28-12 on second shots.''
O.J. Mayo continued his stellar rookie season with a team-high 25 points, and is averaging 26.5 points and 48.7 percent shooting from the field during Memphis' losing streak.
The NBA's top-scoring rookie at 21.0 points per game, Mayo had a then-career high 28 points in the first meeting with the Kings.
Rudy Gay scored 18 of his 24 points in the final 8 minutes against Milwaukee. After scoring six points in each of his first two career games against the Kings, Gay has averaged 21.4 points while shooting 49.3 percent from the field in the last five meetings.
While Memphis looks to toughen up on the defensive end, Sacramento (4-7) is trying to take better care of the basketball and regain its shooting touch. In its past two games - both losses - Sacramento has averaged 18.5 turnovers and shot 43.5 percent.
Before those two contests, the Kings made 51.2 percent of their shots and committed 14.4 turnovers per game during a 4-1 stretch.
"We had a lot of opportunities and we just didn't knock them down," Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said following Sunday's 90-88 defeat to San Antonio. "We did a great job on the boards (42-34), but I thought we turned the ball over a little too much in the fourth quarter.''
John Salmons shot 10-of-13 from the field and had a season-best 31 points against the Spurs. Salmons is averaging 7.6 points in seven career games at Memphis, but he had 21 in the Nov. 5 win over the Grizzlies.
Center Brad Miller is averaging 13.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in six games this season. He missed the first matchup with Memphis while serving the final game of a league-imposed, five-game suspension, but has averaged 16.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in his past four games against the Grizzlies.
Memphis has defeated Sacramento in seven of the last nine meetings at FedExForum.
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