Rudy Gay scored his 10,000th career point Wednesday night, scoring 23 points in his return to the Sacramento Kings lineup, but Gay’s long-time former team, the Memphis Grizzlies, rained on the parade with a 99-89 win at Sleep Train Arena.
The loss is the fifth in a row for the Kings (15-30), who got Gay back after the small forward sat out three games with a strained left Achilles. Gay was solid, hitting 10-of-16 from the floor and dishing five assists, but Mike Conley poured in 27 points and handed off 10 assists to pace the Grizzlies (24-20) to their fourth straight victory.
The Kings got the deficit to three points three different times in the fourth period, but were never quite able to get over the hump.
After Memphis took a 10-point lead, 82-72, with 7:30 to go, Sacramento chipped away at the deficit, closing to 84-81 on Isaiah Thomas’ 3-pointer with 4:34 to go. The teams traded baskets to make it 86-83 and after Conley made a pair of free throws, Ben McLemore hit two from the stripe with 3:11 remaining to make it an 88-85 ballgame.
Then Tayshaun Prince sort of happened.
The veteran forward canned a 20-foot jumper and then got a steal from Gay and laid the ball in at the other end to put Memphis up 92-85 with 2:27 left. Prince’s dunk with 1:32 to go pushed the lead back to double digits for the Grizzlies.
Thomas led the Kings with 24 points and also had five assists. Carl Landry had a team-high nine rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench for Sacramento, which played without center DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) for the fourth straight game.
Memphis was 41-for-75 (54.7 percent) overall, 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) from 3-point land and 13-for-16 (81.3 percent) from the foul line. Sacramento was 38-for-79 (48.1 percent), 5-for-21 (23.8 percent) and 8-for-8.
The Kings had a 34-31 rebounding edge and outscored the Grizzlies in the paint 48-44 and on the break 16-14. However, Sacramento’s 17 turnovers turned into 18 Memphis points, while the Grizzlies gave it away just 12 times for 12 points for the Kings.
Sacramento heads out on a two-game Texas trip Friday night at Dallas. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. Pacific.