Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/18/13
MEMPHIS -- It wasn't a masterpiece, but who cares when you've been hammered by an average of almost 23 points per game in a three-game losing streak? The Memphis Grizzlies, with all five starters scoring in double figures, led almost start to finish in an 85-69 victory over the Sacramento Kings Friday night in FedExForum. The balanced scoring, led by center Marc Gasol's 18 points and 10 rebounds, offset the absence of Zach Randolph. Randolph and his NBA-leading 25 double-doubles sat out the game with a lower back strain. Tony Allen and Marreese Speights both were a rebound shy of double-doubles, with Allen contributing 14 points and nine rebounds, and Speights 10 points and nine rebounds. Also in double figures for the Grizzlies were Mike Conley with a team-high 19 points, and Rudy Gay with 13 points. Memphis (25-13) led by as many as 18 points 5 minutes into the third quarter, but never quite pulled away from the Kings (15-25). Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, who had game-highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds, kept his team from totally disappearing. The Grizzlies did their part to give the Kings hope by missing their first four of six free throws in the final period. The Grizzlies still went through long periods where points didn't come easily. For instance, Memphis hit eight of its first nine shots on the night, then missed 11 of its last 12 in an 18-point first quarter. But at least the Griz played tight defense against the Kings, whose primary offensive option was the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins, who had the green light to shoot just about anywhere. The Grizzlies led by 10 points with 6 minutes left to play when Cousins went to the bench with his fifth foul, and he never returned. Memphis responded by scoring its next eight points in the paint, including a Gay windmill dunk off a nifty Allen feed. Notes: Randolph and his 25 double-doubles did not play because of a lower back strain he sustained in Wednesday's 103-83 loss at San Antonio. Speights got just his second start of the year. Speights, averaging 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds coming in, had scored 10 or more points seven times this season. ... Sacramento has lost five of the last six games against Memphis. ... Memphis snapped a three-game losing streak. It lost to the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Kings by an average of almost 23 points per game. Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said their 12-2 start back in November, partially due to a favorable early schedule loaded with home games, gave his team and fans in general a false sense of security. "The difference in this season is we had a favorable early schedule, minimal games each month and lots of days in between to practice and clean up stuff. It's like being in college again. In past years, we started slow, because we had a lot of road games against quality teams. We've always stuck after it, we get in a groove and we start playing. By us getting off to a 12-2 start this season, expectations changed. Now that we're back to who we are, people are saying 'What's wrong?' We're still the same team we were last year and the year before. We still need to shoot the ball better consistently, we still need to execute better consistently. When we don't do those things well, we struggle offensively."
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