Winning doesn't have to be pretty. The Memphis Grizzlies have spent the better part of a decade playing a certain style of basketball that isn't always appealing to the eye. Sacramento found the remnants of the grit-and-grind Grizzlies in their stop at FedEx Forum Friday evening.
Mike Conley Jr., Marc Gasol and two-time former King, Omri Casspi, helped slow Sacramento's offense to a crawl. The game went down to the wire, but the young Kings found a away to pull out a 99-96 victory to improve to 2-3 on the road trip.
It was the eighth straight loss for the Grizzlies, who have made most of their squad available on the open market leading up to the Dec. 7 trade deadline.
The win move Sacramento back over the .500 mark on the season at 25-24. Here are the positives and the negatives from the loss.
Fox in the Clutch
De'Aaron Fox made plenty of mistakes in the Kings' win over the Grizzlies, including seven turnovers on the evening. But when the game was on the line, Sacramento's young point guard was nails.
His defensive stop with just over 40 seconds remaining against Conley was a thing of beauty. His pair of free throws to extend the Kings' lead to four in the final minute. And then came the dagger.
For one of the few times this season, Fox got the ball in the open court and instead of going for the quick bucket, he slowed the action down and milked the clock. Matched up against Conley once again, Fox used a behind the back dribble to get to the left elbow and then a step back to create space. With the veteran defender draped all over him, Fox rose up and buried the 19-foot jumper.
The sophomore guard finished the night with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go with six rebounds, five assists and a steal.
Bjelica Bouce Back
Dave Joerger made a decision to sit Fox, along with Nemanja Bjelica and Iman Shumpert, in the team's loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. The rest appeared to do both Fox and Bjelica some good.
In his previous eight games, Bjelica had hit the skids, averaging just 3.9 points on 12-of-37 (32.4 percent) shooting from the field and 3-for-18 (16.7 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
Against Memphis, the Kings made a concerted effort to get their starting power forward involved early. He started off a little rough, missing a pair of free throws and an 8-foot jumper early in the first quarter, but then he settled in.
The sharpshooting Serb finished the evening with 17 points on 6-of-10 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from deep. He added 11 rebounds, three blocks and a crucial steal.
Buddy Hield came into the league as a scorer. He's developed into one of the best shooters in the game.
After a modest seven points in the first half, Sacramento's leading scorer caught fire in the third, scoring 13 points on 4-of-6 from behind the arc. He followed that up with another six points in the fourth to finish the evening with a game-high 26 points and seven rebounds.
In the month of January, Hield is averaging 22 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field and 55.3 percent (57-of-103) shooting from long range.
[RELATED: Source: Hield to shoot in 3-point contest]
The Kings have an issue at the three. Both Shumpert and Justin Jackson are both mired in major offensive slumps.
In nine games in the month of January, Shumpert is shooting just 25 percent from the field and 24.3 from behind the 3-point line. Against Memphis, he missed all six of his shots, including five misses from deep.
Jackson hasn't faired much better. Over his previous eight games, the second-year forward is averaging five points per game on 34.8 percent from the field and 23 percent from behind the arc. Like Shumpert, Jackson missed all four of his shots against the Grizzlies.