Programming note: Grizzlies-Kings coverage starts Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Kings Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (territory restrictions apply) Channel locations
Sacramento (9-7) returns home to face the Grizzlies for the second time this season after splitting a four-game road trip.
Memphis (14-2) arrives in Sacramento with the best record in the NBA and riding a four-game winning streak after defeating the Blazers in Portland on Friday night 112-99.
On Friday, the NBA declined the Kings protest of Memphis’ 111-110 win at the buzzer over Sacramento on a Courtney Lee layup via a Vince Carter inbounds pass with .3 seconds remaining on the clock at the FedEx Forum on November 13.
In arguably the most difficult loss of the season, the Kings squandered a 26-point lead, including leading by 17 points with under eight minutes left in the game, and allowed 95 points to the Grizzlies in the final three quarters.
The Kings have endured the second toughest schedule in the NBA to date this season, according to Kings coach Michael Malone, and have faced only one eastern conference foe thus far.
While the Kings welcomed back Rudy Gay and Darren Collison after missing two games to injury versus the Spurs, DeMarcus Cousins missed Friday's game with a virus.
Cousins is questionable for Sunday against the Grizzlies.
Sacramento has 10 of its next 11 games at Sleep Train Arena.
“It’s good to have them back and now we have to get home and protect our home court,” Malone told the media in San Antonio.
However, being home won’t be easy.
“We have the Memphis Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors staring us in the face,” said Malone. “Those are two of the best teams in the NBA.”
However, the Kings are embracing the opportunity in California’s capital city after 10 of their first 16 games on the road.
“We’ve got to start putting some games together,” Darren Collison told reporters in San Antonio. “The good thing is that we had a tough November schedule and we get to defend our home court now.”
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Darren Collison vs. Michael Conley. Sacramento was devastated by Tony Parker’s penetration in San Antonio on Friday to the tune of 27 points and eight assists and they draw another tough point guard on Sunday.
Conley went for 22 points and 11 assists in the win against the Kings on November 13 and averaged 23.7 points and 8.3 assists in three games versus Sacramento last season.
If there is little resistance to Conley, who almost secured a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in Portland on Friday, it could be a long afternoon.
HERENDA’S AGENDA/KEYS TO VICTORY:
1) Defend – It bears repeating – in the Kings nine wins they’re allowing 97.9 points per game and in their seven losses they’re giving up 104.7 points per game.
It’s got to start at the “head of the snake” as Malone likes to say on Conley before he starts dishing to Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Courtney Lee.
2) Take care of the ball – Turnovers are another bellwether for the Kings – 5-1 when committing less than 15 blunders.
3) Run – Points have been tough to come by against Memphis for most opponents but not for the Kings who scored 19 fast break points en route to 110 total points against Memphis in the initial meeting of the two squads this season.
The Grizzlies are allowing 92.8 points per game – tied with Houston for second in the NBA in points allowed and just one tenth of a point behind San Antonio for the league lead.
Sacramento – third in the NBA in rebounding, should strive to control the glass and look for early scoring opportunities versus the Grizzlies.
Sacramento – C DeMarcus Cousins (virus) is questionable while F Rudy Gay (right Achilles tendinitis), G Darren Collison (left quadriceps contusion) and G Ramon Sessions (right knee strain) are probable.
Memphis – None to report.
The Kings fell to the Grizzlies 111-110 in Memphis on November 13.
This is the second of four meetings this season between Sacramento and Memphis.
The Kings were swept 3-0 last season by the Grizzlies yet Sacramento leads the overall series, 42-31.