The Sacramento Kings fell to 1-3 after Tuesday's embarrassing effort against the Memphis Grizzlies. While the Kings were without DeMarcus Cousins (and will be without him again tonight), they weren't able to get any sort of rhythm on either end of the court. They allowed too many easy baskets and generally played in a lackluster fashion. It was one of those games where you're glad there was a game the next day so that there wouldn't be much time to dwell on it. This is a good opportunity for the Kings to show that they can bounce back from disappointing efforts. Today's action tips off at 6:00 pm on Comcast SportsNet California and on KHTK 1140.
1. Will the real Ben McLemore show up? Ben has easily been one of the biggest disappointments of this early season. He's been a non-factor in each of Sacramento's four games and he's not even shooting 30% from the field. We know that Ben can play better than this and with Cousins out, it's time for him to show it. He needs to be more aggressive when he does get the ball and he absolutely needs to be hitting his wide open shots. Time is running out for him to prove himself and should his struggles continue, he'll find himself stuck on the bench without an opportunity to do so.
2. Can the Kings protect the rim? One of the most disappointing parts about the loss against Memphis was how easily the Grizzlies were getting to the rim and making baskets. Given that the Kings had two excellent post defenders in Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein playing, that was a bit surprising. The Suns don't have the same physicality of post-up threats as the Grizzlies, but their guards and wings are more than willing and able to attack the basket. Sacramento has to do a better job of closing off driving opportunities and protecting the basket.
3. How will the Kings respond? In Kevin Fippin's words: "That was the kind of loss that makes you question everything you've been sold about the Kings being better this year but I promise they are." George Karl was none too pleased with his team's effort last night either. Aside from the first quarter against the Clippers, the Kings had played some spirited basketball up until last night's performance. Hopefully they'll respond with more intensity on the road against this young and hungry Suns team. This is a game the Kings should win if they hope to contend for a playoff spot, and that's exactly how the Suns should feel about playing the Kings as well.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Rajon Rondo vs. Eric Bledsoe
This Suns team doesn't necessarily have a "go-to" guy but Eric Bledsoe is pretty close. He's been pretty good this season so far, averaging 21 points to go with 5 assist a game. Between Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, the Suns have a lot of firepower in their backcourt. Guarding Bledsoe will be a tough task for Rondo, but it will be up to him to slow him down. Keeping him away from getting fastbreak points and layups will be a key. I'd also like to see Rondo be more aggressive offensively.
HAPPY LITTLE SUNSET
Kings 98, Suns 97 after the trade exception we acquired for Isaiah Thomas hits the game-winner.