Memphis, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Mike Conley scored 18 points and the Memphis Grizzlies put an end to a three-game skid with a 97-83 win over the Sacramento Kings.
Memphis entered Monday's matchup having dropped decisions to three of the league's powerhouses in Cleveland, Golden State and San Antonio, but found an easier task against a Sacramento club without its top player and having its second-leading scorer exit late in the third quarter.
The Kings held All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins out for rest purposes, while Rudy Gay departed with 2:23 left in the third after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head from the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol.
Jeff Green added 16 points and Zach Randolph had 15 to help the Grizzlies regain first place in the Southwest Division. They now lead Houston by a half- game after the Rockets lost in Toronto on Monday.
"Good win, guys played hard ... That ball was moving," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.
Gay put up 24 points in 29 minutes prior to leaving.
"Every time it looked like we had an opportunity, we'd bite ourselves in the butt," Kings coach George Karl said.
Memphis never trailed and began to pull away early in the second quarter, putting forth a 17-3 run that turned a two-point edge into a 41-25 lead just over five minutes into the period. Randolph began the stretch with back-to- back baskets and the Grizzlies knocked down three shots from beyond the arc during the tear.
The Grizzlies maintained a double-digit cushion for nearly the entire remainder of the game, taking a 56-43 advantage into halftime by countering every surge the Kings made.
Sacramento was able to get within 73-64 after Carl Landry followed Nik Staukas' 3-pointer with a successful jumper with 1:21 left in the third quarter. The differential was down to eight after Omri Casspi buried a trey with just over nine minutes to go to make the score 78-70.
Gasol then hit a hook shot on the other end and Vince Carter followed with a clutch 3-pointer, keying a 7-1 spurt that kept the Kings at bay.
The first quarter saw Memphis open up an early 16-5 lead behind an 8-0 run. Gay kept the Kings in it, though, scoring 10 points in the frame to help Sacramento trim the margin to 24-20 entering the second.
Memphis guard Tony Allen sat out a second consecutive game with a strained hamstring ... The Kings have now lost 10 straight times in Memphis and 10 of the last 11 overall meetings between the clubs ... Kosta Koufos pulled down a season-best 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies and Gasol finished with 11 boards ... The Grizzlies improved to 13-3 against the Pacific Division this season