Double-double czar Domantas Sabonis, Kings visit Grizzlies

One game was agonizing enough for Domantas Sabonis to sit out with a right thumb injury, and his past two performances contributed to two electrifying wins for the Sacramento Kings, who describe the forward as a walking double-double.

Sabonis and the Kings look to usher in 2023 with a third straight win when the surprising Pacific Division leaders visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night.

At 19-15, the Kings are six percentage points ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the division lead after getting one-point home wins over the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. Sabonis sat out Tuesday’s 113-106 loss to Denver with an avulsion fracture of his ulnar collateral ligament after being hurt in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards on Dec. 23.

In Sacramento’s past two wins, Sabonis continued to rack up double-doubles. On Friday, he totaled 28 points and 11 rebounds for his 12th straight double-double and 25th overall.

Sabonis joined DeMarcus Cousins and LaSalle Thompson as the only players in franchise history with double-doubles in 12 straight games or more.

With his 12-for-12 performance from the floor on Friday, Sabonis joined Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone as the third player to not miss a shot while tallying at least 12 attempts on multiple occasions. He had previously finished 12-for-12 on Oct. 31, 2018, in a game against the New York Knicks when he was with the Indiana Pacers.

The latest double-double occurred on a night where Kevin Huerter scored a career-high 30 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left.

“It just shows that we don’t give up, we just keep fighting,” Sabonis said. “A lot of times, you can just put your head down when things aren’t going your way and we kept fighting.”

The Kings are 9-6 since a three-game losing streak Nov. 23-28. Before Sabonis notched his latest double-doubles, they had dropped three of four in their six-game homestand.

Since a seven-game winning streak Dec. 2-15, the Grizzlies are 3-4. Memphis posted its second straight double-digit win when it pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 116-101 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.

Memphis is looking to make at least 50 percent of its shots from the field in a third straight game after following up its 50.5 percent showing Thursday in Toronto by making 51.1 percent Saturday. The Grizzlies also held the Pelicans to 35.2 percent and forced CJ McCollum into a 4-of-16 shooting outing after he made 11 3-pointers to beat Philadelphia on Friday night.

Ja Morant scored 32 points Saturday, marking the third time in four games he surpassed at least 30 points. Desmond Bane added 18 points in his fifth game back after missing 17 because of a toe injury and Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 11 of his 17 points in Memphis’ 33-point fourth quarter.

“We just kind of strung a cycle together of score, stop, score, stop where we were disciplined in our 1-on-1 defense, our shifts, forcing tough shots and not giving them a second life,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said of the final quarter.

Bane’s minutes are gradually increasing, and he could sit out Sunday while Jackson is expected to play. Morant took a hard fall in the first half Saturday and is expected to play Sunday.

–Field Level Media