SACRAMENTO -- The Memphis Grizzlies applied their league-leading defense when they needed it most and came away with an 89-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings Sunday afternoon before an announced crowd of 15,205 at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings (27-50) never could find an answer to the Grizzles' tough man-to-man defense, particularly during the pivotal fourth quarter. Memphis held on for the win when Tayshaun Prince blocked a three-point attempt by Sacramento's Marcus Thornton at the buzzer.
It wasn't surprising for the Grizzlies to limit Sacramento to 87 points on 29 of 81 shooting (35.8 percent). During the four-game season sweep by the Grizzlies, the Kings averaged 84.5 points and 38.4 field-goal shooting, including 25 percent from three-point range.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins pointed to his team's defense as a strength in the second half.
"Third quarter, we came out, got control of the game again and defended them and we were able to get the lead," he said. "We made a couple of turnovers at bad times, but we overcame them with good defense."
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley scored a game-high 25 points, but he described his team's defense at average.
"I'd say spotty," he said of the defense. "We gave a good effort. They are a good offensive team. But they didn't score that many points, so I'd say we did all right."
The Kings limited all-star forward Zach Randolph to just nine points and got 17 points from backup swingman Quincy Pondexter.
"We've got to get different contributions from different people," Randolph said. "That's what we've been doing all year."
The Kings have tried to do the same thing, but played without backup forward Patrick Patterson (lower back pain).
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and coach Keith Smart complimented their team's fight, but it wasn't enough.
"Our effort was there," Cousins said. "It kept us in the game. We made some good defensive plays down the stretch, we just couldn't finish the game strong."
Smart said, "You have to have a big scoring night against this team and we didn't. When it's like that, you have to get them with every opportunity you have."
Sacramento took a lead late in the game, but the Grizzlies (52-25) continued playing physically, led by all-defensive team shooting guard Tony Allen.
Cousins made two free throws to get Sacramento within one point with 1:25 remaining, then watched Grizzlies center Marc Gasol miss two free throws with 1:09 left.
At the other end, Cousins made a 15-foot jump shot with 44.8 seconds left to give the Kings an 85-84 lead. But Conley made a running jumper with 30 seconds to give Memphis an 86-85 advantage.
A Cousins shot attempt was blocked by Gasol with 19.9 seconds left. Memphis' Pondexter was fouled and made two free throws with 17.9 seconds left for an 88-85 Grizzlies lead.
Isaiah Thomas got the Kings within 88-87 on a layup with seven seconds left.
Conley made one of two free throws with 5.7 seconds left to make it 89-87 Memphis, and Prince preserved the win by blocking Thornton's shot at the buzzer.
Cousins led the Kings with 22 points, while Thomas had 18 points and eight assists.
NOTES: The Grizzlies have set franchise records this season for wins, overall winning percentage and road victories on the way to qualifying for the playoffs for the third straight season. ... Memphis is 23-9 since acquiring Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis in a three-team deal that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30. ... The Kings were the first team this season to score 100 points against the Grizzlies in Memphis in a 108-101 defeat. ... Since the All-Star break, the Kings are ranked first in points per game (108.1) heading into Sunday's game. They have scored 100 or more points in 22 of their previous 26 games, including 13 of their past 14 home games.