Who are these Kings? Literally, who are they?
With their play-in chances hanging on by a thread, head coach Luke Walton turned to a ragtag group of undrafted players, second-round picks and two-way players. His gutsy group gave the Memphis Grizzlies everything they could handle Thursday night at FedEx Forum.
In the end, the Kings couldn’t come up with the big shot or the big stop late. Memphis rattled off a 12-0 run in the final minutes of the game to come away with a 116-110 win, eliminating the Kings from play-in contention.
Justin James played like a star, not a player clinging to his NBA life. Terence Davis stepped up again, Chimezie Metu was impactful and even Louis King made plays in the fourth quarter.
Dillon Brooks caught fire, scoring 30 points to lead the Grizzlies. Jonas Valanciunas dropped in a big-time double-double and Kyle Anderson hit some huge shots.
Here are three observations as the Kings fall in Memphis to drop to 31-39 on the season.
The Kings’ season has been hanging in the balance for the better part of a week, but they were finally eliminated Thursday night in Memphis.
Sacramento trailed the San Antonio Spurs by just two games with three games remaining entering the day's action. The Spurs fell on the road at Madison Square Garden, dropping a close one to the New York Knicks, 102-98, to leave the door open for the Kings for the last play-in spot.
Sacramento needed a win to stay alive, but without most of its rotation, the Kings came up just short. This is the latest the Kings have remained in contention in years, even if it was for a play-in spot. They struggled with injuries and illness, especially late in the season, but still managed to make the Spurs work for it.
Justin James’ career has been in neutral this season, but with the Kings missing De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley, coach Luke Walton needed everyone to step up. The second-year guard out of Wyoming came to play.
In a stunning performance, James matched his career high of 16 points in the first half and he didn’t stop there.
James played defense, pushed the tempo and showed the Kings, as well as the rest of the league, that he can play.
He finished with 31 points on 12-for-17 shooting and added a ton of energy.
Where would the Kings be without Davis in the second half of the season? The easy answer: Eliminated a week ago.
Davis continued his incredible play for Sacramento, posting 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from long range.
The second-year guard added five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. He stuffed the statsheet and flew all over the court for a shorthanded Kings squad.