STARTING LINEUPS & INJURIES
The Kings will start, per usual, Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih in the backcourt, Omri Casspi at small forward and Carl Landry at power forward. The twist is Samuel Dalembert at center; he replaces DeMarcus Cousins, who figures to come in with about 4-5 minutes left in the first quarter and play 25-30 minutes, barring foul trouble. Francisco Garcia, Pooh Jeter, Darnell Jackson and combo-forward (!) Jason Thompson will round out the rotation. Luther Head and Antoine Wright are inactive, Head because of a funeral in Chicago and Wright because of a Thursday DUI arrest. Hassan Whiteside will be active for the first time since the season opener, when he logged two minutes.
The Grizzlies will start Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo in the backcourt, Rudy Gay at small forward and Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol up front. Randolph and Gasol have been, to varying degrees, banged up, but Marc has played five of six games and Randolph played in Phoenix Friday night. Off the bench, the Grizz have Darrell Arthur and Hasheem Thabeet up front, Sam Young and Xavier Henry on the wings, and Acie Law in limited minutes at the point.
HighTops has your full scouting report. Here are my short notes.
* Gay is a fantastic scorer, and can be dangerous from anywhere, at any time. But he's perhaps most deadly off the dribble. He finishes well if he gets all the way to the rim, but he also has strong production in the mid-range. According to HoopData.com, last season he shot 47% from 5-10 feet, 48% from 10-15 feet and 39 percent from 15-23 feet. Forcing him to shoot or pass as far out in the circle as possible is the key here.
* Conley has been great in the passing lanes so far, but keep in mind that seven of his steals came in a 22-steal game for Memphis against awful Minnesota. His steal rate has always been good, but what he has in quickness he lacks in strength, which means Udrih should be able to run Conley off screens or take him into the paint off the dribble. Memphis simply has to help when Conley's man gets into the paint, and Udrih has shown great court vision early this season.
* Memphis' defense has been much better than that of Sacramento so far, and the opposite is true on offense. But the Grizzlies were great on offense last season, so don't be surprised -- given the Kings' defensive deficiencies so far -- if Memphis comes out and rings up a ton of points.
* About Tyreke's improved jumper: Evans is 19-34 (56 percent) within five feet and 13-37 (35 percent) from further away. This kid still lives at the rim. And the line.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Casspi vs. Gay. The Grizzlies' small forward could pop off 40 points at any point; it's up to smart, tight defense from Casspi to prevent that. On the other end, Casspi has shot wonderfully from long-range (10-21 on threes) -- making Gay dart around chasing Omri could help, especially after a big-minute double-OT game from Memphis last night.
PLAYER TO WATCH
DeMarcus Cousins. He'll likely face off against Thabeet in the first half. Dear God Almighty, let him face off against Thabeet in the first half.
7PM Pacific tip in Sacramento, available on Comcast SportsNet and KHTK 1140 AM. Game threads at 7 and 8:30. Let's go Kings.