Though Memphis has played well this month, its playoff hopes continue to fade. The Grizzlies’ lingering problems at Arco Arena certainly haven’t helped their cause.
In danger of missing the postseason for the fourth straight year, the Grizzlies look to end their road struggles against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Memphis (37-33) has won seven of 10, but it’s likely too late to salvage its playoff chances. With 12 games left, the Grizzlies are in 10th place in the Western Conference, 4 1/2 games behind eighth-place Portland.
Memphis hasn’t been to the postseason since 2006. A matchup at Sacramento is unlikely to help it end that drought.
The Grizzlies franchise has lost 26 of 28 road games all-time against the Kings (24-46). Memphis and Sacramento have each won a game at home in this season’s series.
There are, however, some indicators pointing in the Grizzlies’ favor. Sacramento may be without outstanding rookie Tyreke Evans(notes) due to various injuries, and Memphis had won seven straight road games prior to a 107-94 loss to Houston on Wednesday night. The Grizzlies bounced back to beat a subpar Golden State team 123-107 on Saturday evening.
Memphis put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Warriors 38-26. The Grizzlies have put an emphasis on maintaining their intensity down the stretch of games.
Memphis matched a season high with 72 points in the paint and outrebounded Golden State 54-37 even though center Marc Gasol(notes) missed his third straight game with a strained back. He remains listed as day to day.
Hasheem Thabeet(notes), selected two spots ahead of Evans with the second overall pick in last year’s draft, has given the Grizzlies strong minutes as Gasol’s replacement in his first stint as a starter. Back after a stint in the D-League last month, Thabeet is averaging 7.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his last three games.
While Thabeet has struggled for most of the season, Evans leads all rookies in scoring (20.3). He’s expected to be re-evaluated Monday after missing Sacramento’s 102-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
The 6-foot-6 point guard sat out due to a mild concussion, a bruised jaw, lacerated gums and chipped teeth - all the result of an inadvertent elbow he took while going for a loose ball in a 114-108 loss to Milwaukee on Friday night.
“We had to kind of employ a little bit of a different strategy on offense, but it’s something that we’ve done before and we’re definitely comfortable with,” Udrih said.
The Kings own the West’s third-worst record, but have been showing recent signs of improvement, winning four of their last eight.
“We’re obviously young and don’t have the most experience, but we play hard every night and we have a lot of room to grow together,” Udrih said. “From the beginning of this year to where we are now, and with the talent we have, we’ve shown a lot of growth.”