<
>

Grizzlies visit Sacramento trying to end 3-game skid

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In a year of being hot and cold, the Memphis Grizzlies are particularly chilly lately.

Next comes a test against a team that just enjoyed one of its hottest spurts in memory, one Memphis wouldn't mind finding in a dream.

The Grizzlies (40-33) lug a three-game losing streak with them to Sacramento for a Monday night game against the Kings (28-45). The skid comes after a four-game winning streak that had Memphis players thinking they rediscovered the right formula after a five-game losing streak that preceded it.

The ups and downs -- the Grizzlies also have had two six-game winning streaks and an earlier three-game losing streak -- have left Memphis in seventh place in the Western Conference, five games ahead of both the Denver Nuggets (35-38) and the Portland Trail Blazers (35-38) in the race for the final two playoff spots.

The Grizzlies are still uncertain whether they will face the Kings with center Marc Gasol, who is questionable due to a left foot strain.

Memphis, who trail the sixth-place Oklahoma City Thunder (41-31) by 1 1/2 games, missed an opportunity without Gasol to gain ground because of an rough fourth quarter in a 106-94 loss at the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

The Grizzlies are the NBA's 27th-ranked team in scoring at 101.0 points per game and they also shoot a league-worst 43.4 percent from the field. Memphis missed 15 of its first 17 shots on their way to 5-of-25 shooting in the fourth quarter against Golden State.

Memphis hasn't shot better than 45 percent from the field in any of its past six games.

Generally, the Grizzlies make up for it at the other end. Opponents score 100.3 points against Memphis per game, the fourth-best mark in the league.

But a 10-2 Warriors spurt prevented the Grizzlies from becoming the first team since the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs to beat Golden State three teams in a season.

"It's all part of communication," Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said. "We've got to be better than that, and within that. ... If we had been better communicating, it would've been tighter at the end."

The Kings have had much go wrong in what will be their 11th straight losing season, from offensive struggles to defensive communication to late-game breakdowns. But they got a taste of the other side Sunday with an improbable 98-97 victory at the Los Angeles Clippers that came courtesy of a 22-3 run in the game's final 5:16.

The win, only Sacramento's third in 15 games, was a rare highlight in a season that has now turned into a showcase for younger players and jockeying for draft position.

"People don't understand how hard it is to be in our shoes and come to work every day with the circumstances we have dealt with," Kings guard Darren Collison told reporters after the win. "To be together, to still have fun, shows a lot about this team."

Buddy Hield scored 11 of his 15 points during the late run to pace the Kings' comeback and is averaging 14.8 points in 27.6 minutes in 16 games since being acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans at the All-Star break.