In a manner appropriate to the freakish weather, the Memphis Grizzlies stormed over Western power Sacramento at The Pyramid Monday night, 98-94.
Equally appropriately, the star of the show was none other than one Jason Williams, the guy the Kings (10-4) booted out of their camp in favor of former Grizzlies (2-11) point guard Mike Bibby.
Williams struggled early with 1-10 shooting before finishing the night on a streak and a total of 19 points. More importantly, Williams gave out 13 assists and stole the ball from the Kings four times.
More good things: Recently added Grizzly guard Rodney Buford made good on his first start with a career high 21 points. Forward Shane Battier had 16 points, forward Pau Gasol contributed 15 points, and forward Tony Massenburg had 10 points.
The win was even more impressive considering that the Grizzlies were without three starters in shooting guard Michael Dickerson, forward Stromile Swift, and center Lorenzen Wright. The Sacramento Kings were without star forward Chris Webber.
The Kings led most of the game until the Grizzlies took the lead in the final minutes. At one point in the first half, the Kings led by 15 points on the strength of forward Peja Stojakovics 21 points.
Bibby followed his teammate with 20 points but also gave out 11 assists. Center Vlade Divac scored 12 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, guards Bobby Jackson and Doug Christie each scored 11 points each, and forward Scot Pollard scored 9 points and pulled in 12 rebounds like Divac.
It was our defense that won it for us, head coach Sidney Lowe said. I dont think they hit a field goal in the last five minutes. The Griz held the usually hot shooting Kings to 43.8% versus the Grizs 47.7%. Also, the Griz were able to capitalize on multiple King mistakes such as 15 Kings turnovers, multiple King charging fouls, and poor free-throw shooting (66.7%).
About Bufords breakout showing, Lowe said, We knew he was capable of scoring points, and he scores them in bunches. He gives us an athletic body.
About Williams clutch performance, Lowe said, Thats your starting point guard. Thats the guy who has to take you home. Thats his former team. I couldnt leave him on the bench. Hes one of the guys who have to take us home.
The Grizzlies return home to the Pyramid this Friday at 7 p.m. against the Houston Rockets.