Kings (15-55) vs. Memphis (17-53)
Scoring: Kings 13th (99.97), Grizzlies 30th (93.1)
Shooting: Kings 24th (44.8 percent), Grizzlies 22nd (44.9)
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (108.4), Grizzlies 14th (99.68)
Shooting defense: Kings 28th (48.1 percent), Grizzlies 26th (47.4)
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-4.95), Grizzlies 21st (minus-1.47)
The link: Grizzlies coverage in the The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Kings coverage in The Bee (Story on Bobby Jackson's possible return; Game preview; Breakdown of Vlade Divac events surrounding his jersey retirement Sunday)
The almanac: On this date in 1994, Magic Johnson returned to the Los Angeles Lakers as head coach and led them to a 110-101 victory over Milwaukee. Johnson coached the Lakers for the last 16 games of the 1993-94 season, posting a 5-11 record. On this date in 1998, an NBA record 62,046 fans witnessed Chicago's 89-74 win over Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. On this date in Utah's Karl Malone and John Stockton are both held under 10 points in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. This marks the first time since November 21, 1987 that both Malone and Stockton did not reach double figures in scoring in the same game.
PROGRAMMING ALERT: Vlade Divac himself will be live blogging for The Bee on Monday at 1 p.m.
11 a.m., cramming his monstrous frame into a cubicle at our offices and spending an hour answering your questions and getting nostalgic at www.sacbee.com/live. Be sure to take part.
This is not the kind of race you want to stay in.
The Kings, as we've been noting for some time now, remain right on track to finish as the worst in franchise history. Aside from watching the team's young core come along or wondering just how many empty seats there will be at Arco Arena every home game, this is one of the few remaining points of intrigue about this particular team.
There's just something heavy about being the worst, about being alone in that category of futility. Year after year, their season of struggle will be chronicled in the team's media guide. Whenever a Kings team approaches that kind of season-long failure, they will become the point of reference. And with 12 games left, that's a very real possibility.
The first goal should be to win four more before the end, which would give these Kings 19 in all and pull them into a tie with the Cincinnati Royals of 1958-59 (19-53) and 1959-60 (19-56) for fewest wins in franchise history. Considering those two seasons were comprised of 75 and 72 games, respectively, they would still be the worst of course. But in a subtle kind of way, they would have company.
From there, it's not looking so good. It would take eight wins in the final 12 games to tie the 1989-90 Kings team (23-59) as the worst in Sacramento-era history. It's worth noting, too, that the 1989-90 team has the worst Kings record - regardless of city - since they started playing 82 games in 1967 (while in Cincinnati).
But even getting four wins would qualify as a late-season surge for this bunch, considering that would be a .333 winning percentage and this team currently wins at a rate of .214. What's more, the schedule just isn't set up for late-season surprises. Beyond tonight, of course.
The Kings have won 20 straight against Memphis at Arco Arena, a mark that is the third-longest active streak in the NBA. The Grizzlies haven't downed the Kings at Arco since April 19, 1998, in an 112-108 overtime win when the franchise was still in Vancouver. It was the Grizzlies' lone win in Sacramento, as they are 1-25 here.
From there, though, it breaks down like this: two games against Phoenix (six straight Suns wins over Kings), two against Golden State (awful season and two losses to Kings, but plenty of firepower to settle the score), and single tilts against New Orleans (44-26 record), the Lakers (57-14), Houston (47-26, and likely to be Ron Artest's first time actually playing in an Arco Arena return), the Clippers (three of Kings' 15 wins against Clips), San Antonio (47-24 and not missing Beno Udrih one bit), Denver (46-26 overall, 2-1 against Kings and out to prove one loss was fluke), and season finale in Minnesota (at 20-52, substantially more successful than Kings). With the Kings struggles noticeably worse on the road (5-31) than at home (10-24), they have the smallest of advantages there as seven of the final 12 games are at home. - Sam Amick