The Kings try to match their season-high of three consecutive wins tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies at Power Balance Pavilion. Here are a few things to keep an eye on during the game:
1. Can the Kings slow the Grizzlies inside? The Grizzlies have averaged 120.5 points in their two wins over the Kings this season, with much of that scoring coming in the paint. Memphis' big men are good passers and they will work the ball inside -- the Grizzlies average a league-low 11.81 three-point attempts a game. Plus Memphis power forward Zach Randolph, who missed both games against the Kings in January with a knee injury, recently returned to action and has been playing significant minutes off the bench. The Kings will need to play strong defense in the paint, where their focus has been for the past couple of months.
2. How is Tyreke Evans' ankle? After missing the past two games with the sprained left ankle, Evans is expected to play tonight. Evans practiced Monday, but we didn't see him run. It remains to be seen if the ankle will slow him down in transition or if he will show any tentativeness on his patented fast-break drives to the basket.
3. Can Jason Thompson keep it going? Thompson's numbers over the Kings' last three games: 18.3 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, shooting 82.8 percent (24-for-29) from the field. He runs into a tough matchup tonight, though, in the Grizzlies' big frontcourt. His rebounding on the defensive end will be key to getting the Kings into their transition game.
4. Ball movement has been improved. The Kings are averaging 25 assists over their last three games. Head coach Keith Smart said yesterday that he was particularly impressed with the ball movement on Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, saying he counted 17 offensive possessions by the Kings where they didn't let the ball touch the ground, instead swinging passes to an open shooter or inside for a lay-up. That movement injects some life into the Kings' half-court offense. Too often they settle for the tough shots.
5. The Kings are stressing deflections. They don't always turn into steals, but they can at least serve to disrupt a team's offense. Guard Isaiah Thomas said the Kings had a practice a few days ago where they watched film of themselves on defense and saw players without their hands up. That has since been a point of emphasis, Thomas said. And sometimes the deflections do create turnovers -- the Kings have double-digit steals in the last two games, led by Marcus Thornton's nine.