December 31, 2017, 3:23 pm
The new year has almost arrived but first the Kings have a showdown with the struggling Grizzlies in Sacramento.
It’ll be the first meeting of the season for the two teams but with both at the bottom of the Western Conference, it may not be the prettiest sight to behold. Memphis come into tonight’s game with an 11-25 record which is the worst mark in the conference.
Losing Zach Randolph, Vince Carter and Tony Allen in the offseason has really put a dent in their winning culture as the good old days of Grit n’ Grind seem to be fading away. Mike Conley is out of the lineup with an Achilles issue which adds fuel to the fire, while Marc Gasol has reportedly been having issues and is a potential trade candidate as the trade deadline inches closer in February.
While things are pretty bleak in Grizz land, one former King is having a stellar season. Tyreke Evans signed with Memphis in the offseason and is producing the best numbers of his career since his rookie season in Sacramento. Evans is averaging 19.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 30.8 minutes per game. He’s hitting 47.1 percent of his shots and is taking a career-high 5.2 threes per game, and as a result is nailing them at a career-high clip of 41.4 percent.
Evans has managed to stay healthy for the majority of the season so far too which has always been an issue with him. It’s nice to see him putting together an impressive season and reliving the days of success in Sacramento, and then some. He’ll be one to watch tonight as a duel threat like him is going to be a tough cover.
While Gasol has been having his issues in Memphis he’s still a talented player. He’s averaging 18.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, his most boards since the 2011-12 season – a direct result of Randolph moving out of town. Gasol will eat Randolph alive if they match up in the frontcourt so plugging someone like Willie Cauley-Stein or Kosta Koufos on him should help alleviate the problem.
This is a game the Kings can certainly win. After Friday’s disappointing loss to the Suns the Kings need to come out aggressive and not fluff around. A loss here would leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.
PG – Frank Mason
SG – George Hill
SF – Garrett Temple
PF – Skal Labissiere
C – Zach Randolph
De’Aaron Fox (quad) – OUT
Harry Giles (knee) – OUT
HOW TO WATCH
When: 4:00 p.m. PST (7:00 p.m. EST)
Where: NBA TV, NBCS California