The Sacramento Kings return to action after a couple of days off and actually get to play a team that isn't from Los Angeles for the first time this season. The Memphis Grizzlies are coming into Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday night and they're going to be ticked off after their embarrassing 50 point loss to the Warriors on Monday. Today's action tips off at 7:00 pm on Comcast SportsNet California and on KHTK 1140.
1. Who will step up their scoring in Cousins' absence? Cousins is pretty much good for at least 24 points a night and is a presence that the opposing defense has to account for at all times, sometimes with more than one defender. Kosta Koufos probably isn't going to be filling that void. Instead the Kings will need offense from other players who haven't been as productive, such as Ben McLemore.
2. Can Rajon Rondo continue his good play? After a rough start in his first game, Rondo has probably been Sacramento's second best player behind Cousins, and it's thanks to his aggressiveness in looking for his own shot along with others. This is the version of Rondo that we had hoped we would get, but two good games does not make a trend. Conley is probably the best defender Rondo will have had to face this season as well.
3. Is Memphis still a great team? This version of the Grizzlies has been together for a while now but it doesn't seem as if that elusive title is in reach anymore. It's still early, but the Grizzlies haven't looked particularly good, with their only wins coming against non-playoff Eastern Conference teams and two big time losses to last year's NBA Finalists. This is the kind of team that Kings should be hoping to replace or usurp for playoff positioning, so these games are important. Memphis is not going to just lay over for the Kings, especially after the trouncing they had in Oakland on Monday, but this is still a team that I think the Kings can beat, even without Cousins.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Zach Randolph
I can only think of few tougher matchups for our young rookie than a pissed-off Z-Bo. Randolph has struggled early on this season, and he's far past his prime, but he's still a force to be reckoned with and a load on the low block. Cauley-Stein has been impressive defensively in his first few games, but Randolph's strength will be a problem. Koufos will have the task of slowing down Gasol so it will be up to Willie to keep Randolph off the boards and away from the basket. That's a tough proposition for a lot of players, let alone a rookie. Still, it will be a good test and if Willie is up to the challenge it will greatly improve Sacramento's chances of winning.
Kings 109, Grizzlies 104 as Kosta Koufos decides to show the world that he should have been starting ahead of Marc Gasol the whole time.