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  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Memphis' Mike Conley, right, drives against the Kings' Jason Thompson. Conley scored 25 points.

  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Kings forward Chuck Hayes, right, grabs the ball from Memphis guard Mike Conley on Sunday at Sleep Train Arena.

Thornton's shot blocked; Kings suffer fourth straight loss

Published: Monday, Apr. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013 - 10:47 am

The last time the Kings needed a late basket in a close game, it was March 30 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

That night, Sacramento couldn't find one of its go-to players, Marcus Thornton, and the Kings lost when center DeMarcus Cousins tried to win the game with jump shots.

Sunday, the Kings found Thornton, but result was another loss. Sacramento lost its fourth consecutive game, 89-87, to the Memphis Grizzlies at Sleep Train Arena.

The Kings had an ideal matchup after inbounding the ball with 5.4 seconds to play. Thornton ended up with the ball against center Marc Gasol. But instead of attacking Gasol as expected, Thornton pulled up for a three-point attempt that was blocked.

Thornton had a quickness advantage against a player nine inches taller. But he couldn't shake Gasol and attempted to get the shot off. Gasol responded with his fifth block of the game.

"He pump-faked, but I let him jump," Gasol said. "I'm not much of a jumper anyways."

The Kings, who have dropped a season-worst five consecutive home games, botched another opportunity to send a game into overtime or possibly win in regulation against a playoff-bound team.

Kings coach Keith Smart wanted Thornton be more aggressive in that situation.

"You've got to turn the corner and go because we're in the bonus, and that was the indication," Smart said. "We were only down two points and didn't need a winner. We needed to come off of that really fast."

Smart said "seldom" does a team get a good look in that situation but a drive to the basket might have opened up things for another player for an open look if the defense was forced to help Gasol.

"You've got a favorable matchup," Smart said. "You turn the corner, and in five seconds you get yourself into the paint. We didn't need a game winner."

That the Kings were even in the game was a feat, considering they played at Memphis' slow pace, shot just 35.8 percent and had three starters with five or fewer points.

But late in the game, the Kings (27-50) couldn't convert enough to overcome the Grizzlies (52-25).

Cousins gave the Kings their final lead of the game, 85-84, on a 21-foot jumper with 44.8 seconds to play. The Grizzlies responded with a Mike Conley runner with 30 seconds left.

Gasol then blocked Cousins' layup attempt with 19.9 seconds to play. Cousins and Smart were livid that Gasol wasn't called for a foul. As he walked toward the other end of the court, Gasol told Smart, "I got all ball."

Cousins' take after the game: "They didn't call it, so it wasn't a foul."

Cousins scored 22 points in his return to the starting lineup after Smart played him only nine minutes, all in the second quarter, Friday against Dallas. Isaiah Thomas finished with 18 points and eight assists.

Conley had a game-high 25 points. Gasol added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Quincy Pondexter tied his career high with 17 points off the bench for Memphis.

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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