Welcome to the Western Conference. Almost every night you step on the court, there is a seasoned team waiting to give you a fight and, on plenty of nights, hand you a loss.
The Sacramento Kings gave the Memphis Grizzlies a run for their money Friday night at FedEx Forum, but in the end, the veteran team forced the style of play to come away with the 112-104 win.
Here are six notes as the Kings slipped to 4-4 on the road and 8-7 overall on the season.
De’Aaron Fox was the Kings’ star of the night, but he struggled with turnovers. The 20-year-old point guard gave the ball away six times overall, but three of those mistakes came in the fourth quarter while Sacramento was trying to rally.
These nights happen. Fox still managed to score 23 points and shoot 8 of 17 from the field while handing out 10 assists and grabbing four rebounds. This was Fox’s fourth double-double on the season and the eighth time he has scored 20 points or more in a game.
The Minus Touch
Some nights the stats aren’t kind. On paper, Buddy Hield didn’t have a bad night, unless you glance at the plus/minus category.
Hield scored 16 points, shot 6 of 12 from the field, and had three assists, four rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes of play. But he also posted a team-worse -23 in plus/minus.
Finding his game
Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to fight his way through the medical staff's minutes restriction. He played 24 minutes in Memphis, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, 2 of 4 from long range.
As of Monday, the second-year wing planned on playing both games of the back-to-back, which would be a huge step in his return from knee issues.
Breaking the Shump slump
Known more for his defensive prowess, veteran Iman Shumpert has scored in double figures only once over his last previous eight games. Against the Grizz, he let it fly, hitting 3 of 6 from deep on his way to 12 points before fouling out.
The Kings have plenty of other scorers to rely on, but it’s nice to get some production from the small forward position on occasion.
Out-muscled on the blocks
Marc Gasol and Jaren Jackson did major damage against Willie Cauley-Stein, Nemanja Bjelica, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles. The Memphis duo torched Sacramento’s front line for a combined 46 points and 21 rebounds in the Grizzlies' win.
As a group, the Kings' bigs need to figure out how to slow teams that play with their back to the basket.
After averaging 22.2 minutes over the Kings’ first 14 games, Justin Jackson drew the dreaded “Did Not Play -- Coach’s Decision” against the Grizzlies.
Jackson has struggled with his consistency all season, and with Bogdanovic back in the rotation, minutes are getting tighter at the two and the three. Troy Williams ate any extra time that might have gone Jackson’s way, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes of action.