Grizzlies try to keep momentum going vs. Kings
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SACRAMENTO -- The Memphis Grizzlies will seek to capitalize upon the momentum gained by one of the NBA season's biggest early shockers when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The Grizzlies a 60-loss team last season, tipped off a two-game Western swing with a 92-84 victory at Utah on Monday night.
The win came against a Utah team that had swept a three-game season series from the Grizzlies last year by an average of 10.3 points per game.
Mike Conley, who missed most of last season with an Achilles injury, went for 23 points, while teammate Marc Gasol put up an 18-point, 13-rebound double-double, sending the Grizzlies to Sacramento riding a two-game winning streak.
Memphis will be facing a Kings club that will be playing the second night of a back-to-back, having never led in a 126-112 loss at Denver on Tuesday.
If there was good news for Sacramento, it was that coach Dave Joerger was able to spread out the playing time in the one-sided affair. No starter played more than 24 minutes.
A Grizzlies-Kings matchup means a reunion between Sacramento veteran Zach Randolph and the club for which he starred earlier in his career.
The two-time All-Star, who left Memphis as an unwanted free agent after the 2017 season, sat out Tuesday's loss to the Nuggets.
He should be well-rested for the reunion, having never left the bench in the preseason nor the first four games of the regular season, relegated to being a practice player for the time being.
If Randolph gets an opportunity to make his season debut, he likely will go head-to-head with longtime sidekick Gasol, whose big game Monday came despite the presence of Utah's defensive standout, Rudy Gobert.
"He's kind of the horse that pulls the plow," Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff gushed of Gasol after the win. "Time and time again, when called upon, he goes out and does the job."
Like Memphis, the Kings already have a win upon which to hang their hat, that coming in a 131-120 upset victory at Oklahoma City on Sunday in Russell Westbrook's season debut.
Iman Shumpert, a veteran who like Randolph has been tasked with helping mentor a young Kings roster, paced the win with a career-best 26 points.
"I'm not here feeling entitled," the eight-year veteran assured. "I'm just here to play basketball."
Shumpert was one of the Sacramento starters who saw only limited action Tuesday. He had 12 points to show for his 20 minutes.
He and backcourt mate De'Aaron Fox will be saddled in the Memphis game with the responsibility of slowing Conley, who has gotten better by the game after his long layoff.
Conley missed all three matchups with the Kings last season, including a 114-96 win at Sacramento in which Ben McLemore contributed eight points off the bench.
McLemore has since returned to the Kings, for whom he started his career. He had six points in five minutes in the loss at Denver.
After a 7-4 start last season before Conley got hurt, the Grizzlies won only 15 times in their final 71 games. Two of those wins came against the Kings, each by 18 points.
Updated October 24, 2018