MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Mike Conley's perfect start sent the Memphis Grizzlies to an easy victory.
Conley hit his first eight shots en route to a season-high 22 points as the Grizzlies won their sixth straight and moved atop the Southwest Division with a 128-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
``It was just one of those nights where the lane seemed wide open,' said Conley, who finished 10 of 13 from the field. ``All the shots were falling and I had to pick it up for my team, keep us afloat and start us off on a good foot.'
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 23 points, while O.J. Mayo matched Conley's 22. Marc Gasol had 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked six shots, while Marreese Speights contributed 12 points and 15 rebounds for Memphis, which set a season high for points and fell one shy of the highest total in the NBA this season.
Miami scored 129 points on New Year's Day against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Jimmer Fredette led the Kings with a season-high 20 points and six assists, while Donte Greene and DeMarcus Cousins scored 19 apiece. Cousins also had 11 rebounds, and Tyreke Evans had 13 points.
The Grizzlies led by eight at halftime, but opened the second half with a 12-0 run. The Kings, who had their two-game winning streak snapped, trailed by as many as 39 in the fourth quarter.
``We just didn't have enough,' Kings coach Keith Smart said. ``You've got a (Memphis) team here, at home, that had the energy necessary to close a team out. We didn't have enough once we got back into the game to get up over the hump.'
The victory moved the Grizzlies into first place, percentage points ahead of San Antonio and Dallas.
``From my perspective, I'm not even thinking of that,' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. ``I just think about how we can make the playoffs and how we can get better than we were last year.'
Conley's shooting gave Memphis an early 16-point lead, as the Grizzlies point guard hit all seven of his shots for 15 first-quarter points. He eventually would hit eight straight and 10 of 11 in the half for all of his 22 points in the game.
Conley's start opened up plays for the rest of the Memphis players, particularly since Conley is more known for feeding the likes of Gay, Gasol and Mayo.
``When you see your point guard aggressive, it definitely gets everybody else going,' Mayo said. ``That's definitely not his style. He's not a point guard who needs to shoot a lot. If anything, we get a little aggravated because he's not aggressive enough.'
The Memphis lead expanded to 19 early in the second quarter, but the Kings battled back behind Fredette, who scored all 15 of his first-half points in the second period.
That helped the Kings outscore Memphis 39-34 in the quarter as they hit 17 of 26 shots and cut the halftime lead to 68-60.
``We were able to climb back into the game and get it down to eight at halftime,' Fredette said. ``We wanted to try and push the tempo and get that lead down.
``When we got it down, I was able to make my shots, make plays and do different things to help us get back in the game. But we lost it from there.'
Memphis again took over at the start of the second half, scoring the first 12 points for an 80-60 lead. The Grizzlies eventually led by 28 in the third period by outscoring the Kings 34-16.
Gasol had 11 in the quarter for Memphis and, by the early stages of the fourth period, the Kings' reserves were on the floor with Memphis owning a 30-point advantage.
Mayo said after the start, it was important to keep the pressure on the Kings and allow Memphis to carry momentum into an upcoming four-game West Coast road trip next week. But many in the locker room said things are much smoother now than at the start of the season.
``We know we're a good team. We know how to play the right way,' Mayo said. ``It's just a little aggravating when we kind of fight it a little bit. Right now, it seems so easy because we are all playing the right way. The chemistry is there. We're all in tune and in rhythm.'
Notes: Grizzlies C Hamed Haddadi, who has not played this season because of visa problems, dressed for the game. Asked before the game if Haddadi was on limited minutes, Hollins replied: ``Unlimited minutes. He'll play as long as my desire for him to play.' Haddadi played just over 5 minutes with two points and five rebounds. . Memphis has won seven of the last eight in the series. ... The Kings are 4-6 under Smart, who took over for Paul Westphal on Jan. 5. . Gasol hit a 3-pointer midway through the third, only his second long-range attempt this season. . Kings G Marcus Thornton left in the first half with a stiff left thigh. . Kings F John Salmons missed his first game of the season. Club officials said he stayed at the team hotel with an illness. Francisco Garcia started in his place.
The Associated Press News Service
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