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Kings Mauled By Grizzlies, Lose Third Straight Game

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

De’Aaron Fox’s return would not be enough for Sacramento on Sunday night

Over the course of an NBA regular season, the high’s are high and the low’s are…well, you get it.

Right now, the Sacramento Kings are experiencing a significant low.

After winning seven of nine and pulling above the .500 mark, the Kings have lost three games in a row, the most recent being a 124-110 drubbing to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night at Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento (12-14) allowed the Grizzlies to score 124 points on 53-percent shooting from the field and 43-percent shooting from three-point range.

Memphis made their presence known very fast on Sunday, taking a 62-46 lead into the half behind an 18-point first-half scoring outburst from forward Dillon Brooks.

Rookie standout Tyrese Haliburton kept the Kings alive late, finishing one point shy of tying his career-high. The 20-year-old guard finished with 22 points on nine-of-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists and two steals.

Haliburton and the rest of the Sacramento bench cut the Memphis lead to 10 points with just under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before the Grizzlies would answer back to close things out for good.

The reigning Western Conference Rookie of the Month has been remain locked in sine being honored for the month of January, topping the 20-point mark for the third time over his last six games.

De’Aaron Fox returned to action following a one game absence due to a knee contusion that he suffered during Thursday’s practice session.

Fox provided the Kings with yet another All-Star performance against Memphis–albeit, a quite performance–as the 23-year-old finished with 23 points (seven-of-15 from the field) and nine assists over 30 minutes.

Sacramento’s franchise guard is absolutely on a roll right now, posting eye-popping numbers on a nightly basis.

After not seeing any action since January 9th’s game against Portland, Nemanja Bjelica was back on the floor against the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

The 32-year old forward arguably posted his best stat-line of the season, prompting head coach Luke Walton to roll the 6’10 big out there once again during Sunday’s game against Memphis.

Bjelica finished with nine points on four-of-eight shooting to go along with four rebounds and three assists over 27 minutes.

Sophomore forward DaQuan Jeffries has apparently made his mark on Luke Walton’s rotation after only two games, as the 23-year-old got the call for his first start of his NBA career.

Jeffries, who returned on Friday night after missing the first 24 games of the season due to a severely sprained ankle, started in place of Marvin Bagley III (calf soreness).

Bagley is day-to-day, according to Walton. The third-year forward will undergo treatment on Monday morning and have his status updated prior to facing the Brooklyn Nets later on in the evening.

Kings center Richaun Holmes chipped in with 13 points (six-of-nine shooting) and two rebounds over only 22 minutes of play.

Backup point guard Cory Joseph had his strongest showing of the season on Sunday, scoring a season-high 16 points (seven-of-12 from the field) over 27 minutes.

The game was there for the taking late, as Kings reserve big Chimezie Metu delivered a big dunk over Grizzlies center Jonas Valunciunas with 3:18 left to cut the deficit to 10 after Valunciunas was called for a techinal foul following the play.

Walton opted to roll with his bench unit–plus starting two-guard Buddy Hield, who had a very rough night on Sunday (1-8 from three-point range).

With no Fox or Haliburton in the closing unit, the Grizzlies were able to withstand the late run by the Kings to claim their 11th win of the season.

Unlike past Kings losses, the shots were not falling on Sunday night.

Sacramento finished eight-of-33 (24%) from three-point range in the loss, an uncharacteristic night from a team that loves to shoot the long-ball. The defense has had its struggles this season, but when the offense is unable to knock down shots, wins will be very hard to come by.

Hield, Harrison Barnes (8 PTS, 0-3 from 3PT) and Fox (1-8 from 3PT) all struggled from three-point range against Memphis.

While it is very rare for all of those starters to struggle at the same time, Sunday’s loss was a daunting example of what the team will look like when three-fifths of the starting lineup are unable to knock down shots.

Coming Up

Sacramento will be back at the Golden 1 Center in less than 24 hours, with James Harden, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets coming into town on Monday night.

Former MVP Kevin Durant (hamstring strain) will not be active when the Kings face Brooklyn.

Be sure to tune in for all of the action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, starting with pregame coverage at 6:30pm PST with tip-off following at 7:00pm PST.