Programming note: Kings-Grizzlies coverage starts today at 4:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Plus with Kings Pregame Live (territorial restrictions apply)
UPDATE (12 p.m. on Thursday) -- The Kings announced that point guard Darren Collison (left shoulder stiffness) has been upgraded to probable, which means he has 75 percent chance of playing.
Sacramento (5-3) takes on Memphis (7-1) in the finale of a four-game road trip after squandering a 24-point lead in Dallas on Tuesday and falling to the Mavericks, 106-98.
A split of the road trip is at stake, but Sacramento must conquer its split personality to get it done -- especially on defense.
Good D over Bad D: On this road trip, the Kings limited the Suns to 11 points in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City to 15 in the third and Dallas to 14 in the first twelve minutes.
Conversely, Sacramento gave up 36 to the Suns in the first, 34 to the Thunder in the fourth quarter and a whopping 96 to the Mavs over the final three stanzas.
The Kings must find the resolve to avoid the latter (Bad D) and strive for the former (Good D).
Cousins on the floor: While the Kings won in double overtime in Phoenix on the first game of the road trip after Cousins fouled out in the last minute of regulation, the Kings cannot afford to be without their premier big man on the floor.
When the former Kentucky Wildcat exited the game after picking up his third foul with the Kings up by 21 points in the second quarter, Dallas responded with a 17-5 run which proved to be the turning point in Sacramento’s loss.
Cousins, who shot only 32.3 percent from the floor and averaged 15.5 points and 11 rebounds in two games versus Memphis last season (missing the final meeting due to an ankle sprain), must avoid careless fouls and remain on the floor for the Kings to thrive.
On the other side, the importance of Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol should not be underestimated; since the Spaniard’s return from injury on Jan. 14, 2014, Memphis has won 74 percent of its games.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Darren Collison/Ramon Sessions vs. Mike Conley: Collison, (listed as questionable) and/or Sessions must contain Conley, the catalyst of the Memphis offense who is averaging 15.9 points and 5.6 assists per game.
DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marc Gasol: Cousins must avoid foul trouble and get back to the free throw line. It won’t be easy versus Gasol, the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Cousins has been to the line only seven times over the last two games after averaging 10.5 trips to the charity stripe over the first six games of the season.
Jason Thompson vs. Zach Randolph: Life is not easy for Thompson when your assignments include guarding the likes of Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki and now Zach Randolph who averages a double-double of 16.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
KEYS TO VICTORY: 1. Under 100: The Kings held their first three opponents to less than 100 points. Since then, every team has put up triple digits on Sacramento. Memphis averages 94.8 points per game, ranking 24th in the NBA, and the Kings must keep them under 100.
2. Patience on offense: Facing the best defense in the league in the Grizzlies, who allow just 89.4 points per game, Sacramento must balance the paradox of being in attack mode but maintaining its poise.
3. Protect the rock: Avoiding a repeat performance of the Dallas debacle, which included 22 turnovers, and embracing coach Michael Malone’s goal of 13 or fewer turnovers per game will be paramount in Memphis.
INJURY UPDATE: Sacramento – G Darren Collison (left shoulder stiffness) is probable.
Dallas – G Nick Calathes (suspended list) is out.
[RELATED: Collison questionable for Grizzlies]
SERIES HISTORY: This is the first of four meetings this season between Sacramento and Memphis.
The Kings were 0-3 in 2013-14 against the Grizzlies and have lost seven consecutive games versus Memphis.
Sacramento leads the overall series 42-30.