It was a tough night at FedEx Forum as the Kings fell to the Grizzlies 97-83 and lost Rudy Gay to a concussion.
While executing a backdoor cut, Gay caught an inadvertent elbow from Marc Gasol and exited the game with 2:23 remaining in the third quarter with the Kings trailing 73-59.
The 28-year-old forward left the floor with what proved to be a game-high 24 points against one of his former squads.
“Well it’s difficult playing without your top two or three players,” head coach George Karl told the media in Memphis. “I thought we played hard tonight and in the second half we tried to cut into the game. Every time it looked like we had an opportunity, we’d bite ourselves in the butt with a bad pass or a bad decision.”
Sacramento (26-47) was already shorthanded as DeMarcus Cousins was not in uniform (rest).
The inability of Sacramento’s supporting cast to complement Cousins and Gay has plagued the Kings over their recent two-game losing streak.
Similar to Friday’s loss in New Orleans, in which Gay scored a quiet 18 points around Cousins’ 33-point, 20-rebound performance, there was little support from Sacramento’s role players in Memphis.
After Gay’s 24 points, Ray McCallum and Derrick Williams were the only other double-figure scorers for Sacramento, contributing 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“They made defensive plays especially in the fourth quarter,” Carl Landry told the media in Memphis. “It was a tough game especially without our leader DeMarcus (Cousins). But all the guys in this locker room can play. Unfortunately we just didn’t make plays and step up on the night.”
Landry had only played nine total minutes in the past six games, contributed seven points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action.
“I thought Memphis was a very hungry team,” Karl added. “They needed a win. They knew they were in a bad place after three tough losses and they played with a lot of pride and a lot of heart. I think we fought them hard with the players we had on the court but we just didn’t make enough good plays to make it close.”
Although the playoffs have long been off the table and the Kings are just 5-6 over their last 11 games, the roster remains committed to finishing strong.
“Our team especially, we want to win the last 10 or 12 games that we have,” Williams said. “Coach is really big on that. He is a veteran coach. We want to win every game as possible leading into next season and get some momentum.”
Rudy Gay’s torrid scoring pace was continuing before sustaining the concussion.
The Kings inability to get production beyond Gay makes winning virtually impossible especially against the Grizzlies on their home floor.
Sacramento’s desire and effort is there but the execution hasn’t been over the last two games.
With nine games remaining on the season and with Gay undergoing league-mandated concussion protocol, one has to wonder if he will play again this season.