SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — After some early struggles to start the season, the Memphis Grizzlies appear to have found the formula that led to a franchise-record 56 victories in 2012-13.
Zach Randolph scored nine of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and also had 10 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies to a 97-86 victory over the slumping Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
Memphis was an efficient team offensively that played strong defense last season. That same formula has worked well in two straight victories that have evened the Grizzlies' record at 5-5.
Memphis shot just over 55 percent and had a season-best 30 assists. The Grizzlies blocked four shots, played the Kings tough inside, and limited Sacramento to 38 percent shooting.
"It's where we are as a team, that's the important thing," Memphis coach David Joerger said. "We're trying to lay the foundation back down to who we are as a team. Zach and Marc (Gasol) were beasts and Mike Conley was really efficient today. "
Gasol had 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds against the Kings, which followed a similar effort Friday night in a victory over the Lakers.
"I always try to be who I am and I always help out," Gasol said. "I really don't care about numbers. I really don't. Teams go through struggles during stretches of the season. Ours have come to start the season. We just want to keep getting better."
The Grizzlies led by 20 points in the third quarter and survived a second-half rally by the Kings to win their second straight on their four-game road trip that includes tough games Monday against the Clippers and Wednesday at Golden State.
The Kings cut the margin to 82-79 on Travis Outlaw's 3-pointer with 7:18 left. But Memphis responded with seven unanswered points for a 10-point lead, then put it away when Randolph's basket from close range made it 93-82 with 1:29 left.
"Zach is playing well right now," said Conley, who also had 19 points and nine assists. "When he's got it going like that and is in a zone, we try to get him the ball."
Outlaw helped fuel the Kings' comeback and scored a season-high 18 points. The Kings have lost two straight and seven of eight. Isaiah Thomas added 15 points and Marcus Thornton had 12.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who came into the game averaging 22.8 points, had nine points in 19 minutes. Cousins and the rest of the Kings starters, with the exception of Luc Mbah a Moute, sat out the final 19½ minutes.