Interim Kings coach Alvin Gentry didn’t like what he saw when his starters came out looking lethargic in the opening minutes of Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. When they did it again to start the second half, Gentry decided he had seen enough.
Gentry benched his starters less than three minutes into the second half. He was looking for a spark from his bench, but his backups didn’t fare much better in a 128-101 loss to the Grizzlies at FedExForum.
Dillon Brooks scored 21 points to lead the Grizzlies (10-10), who won despite the absence of point guard Ja Morant. Desmond Bane added 18 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 17 points and nine rebounds.
Buddy Hield had a team-high 14 points for the Kings (8-13), but he made just 5 of 17 from the field and 1 of 9 from 3-point range. Terence Davis had 13 points. De’Aaron Fox had 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting for the Kings, who were coming off back-to-back wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Grizzlies led by 24 at the half and extended their lead to 28 early in the third quarter, prompting Gentry to call a timeout. Gentry made mass substitutions, replacing Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Davis, Chimezie Metu and Alex Len with Hield, Davion Mitchell, Louis King, Marvin Bagley III and Damian Jones.
“We started the third quarter and I didn’t think we had the kind of activity I thought we should have,” Gentry said. “And then after a couple easy baskets here or there, I decided it was time to try somebody else.”
The Grizzlies shot 48.1% from the field while holding the Kings to 34.0%. Memphis also amassed a 68-49 rebounding advantage.
“When you look at the stat sheet, all the things say that we had no chance to win the game,” Gentry said.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant will miss his first game of the season when the Kings visit FexEdForum on Sunday, but Sacramento still has some injury concerns of its own.
The Kings (8-12) could be without three starters when they play the Grizzlies (9-10) to conclude a brief two-game road trip after beating the Los Angeles Lakers 141-137 in triple-overtime Friday night at Staples Center.
Center Richaun Holmes is not expected to play due to a non-COVID-19-related illness. The illness caused Holmes to miss Friday’s game after he was held out of Wednesday’s 125-121 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers because of a right eye contusion.
Forward Harrison Barnes was listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report Saturday. Barnes hasn’t played since spraining his right foot in Wednesday’s game against the Blazers.
Forward Maurice Harkless is listed as questionable against the Grizzlies. Harkless left Friday’s game with left knee soreness and did not return.
Morant went down with a sprained left knee in a 132-100 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant will play again this season, but at this point there is no timetable for his return. Morant, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, is averaging 24.1 points, 6.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds this season.
Interim coach Alvin Gentry confirmed during his pregame news conference that Barnes, Harkless and Holmes would all be held out of Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies. Gentry said all three players are considered day-to-day.
Gentry also revealed his plan for the starting lineup with Barnes, Harkless and Holmes all ruled out.
Gentry said he would start a three-guard lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Terence Davis with Chimezie Metu at power forward and Alex Len at center.
Filling in for Morant
The Grizzlies announced they would start Tyus Jones at point guard with Morant out of the lineup. Jones, who came out of Duke as the No. 24 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, came in averaging 6.2 points and 3.1 assists in 15.7 minutes per game.
Jones is shooting career highs of 51.1% from the field and 50% from 3-point range. He started 49 games over his first six seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Grizzlies.
Sacramento trailed 76-52 at the break following a dreadful first half.
The Kings looked flat and listless from the opening tip. They picked up three fouls in the opening minute while getting outscored 11-0 to start the game. Davis committed two fouls in the first 58 seconds and was immediately replaced by Buddy Hield, who went 5 of 14 from the field and 1 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half.
The Grizzlies shot 55.4% while amassing a 33-24 rebounding advantage. The Kings shot 35.3% and made 5 of 24 (.208) from 3-point range.
Sacramento Kings at Memphis Grizzlies
When: 3 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sports 1140 KHTK
Odds: Grizzlies -3.5
Kings: QUESTIONABLE — Maurice Harkless (knee). DOUBTFUL — Harrison Barnes (foot). OUT — Richaun Holmes (illness); Neemias Queta (G League); Robert Woodard II (G League).
Grizzlies: OUT — Sam Merrill (ankle); Ja Morant (knee); Yves Pons (G League).
Note: Check back for updates with the latest news, notes, quotes and injury updates before, during and after tonight’s game between the Kings and Grizzlies.