Grizzlies-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 07, 2013
The Memphis Grizzlies are in search of consistency and having a healthy Zach Randolph producing should help. The Sacramento Kings are looking to get a lift from the expected return of one of their own key contributors. Randolph and the Grizzlies will try to win back-to-back games for the first time in over two weeks on Monday night when they visit the Kings, who are expected to have Tyreke Evans back. Memphis (21-10) has lost four of seven following a four-game winning streak, and has been plagued by inconsistent shooting recently. The Grizzlies are hitting 46.7 percent from the field in their last three victories compared to 38.7 during the past three defeats. That trend continued Sunday, when they connected on a season-high 53.6 percent from the floor in a 92-81 victory at Phoenix to open this three-game road trip. That effort came two days after Memphis shot 39.5 percent in an 86-84 loss to Portland. One of the changes, though, was the return of Randolph, who sat out against the Trail Blazers with flu-like symptoms. He was superb in his return Sunday, sinking 9 of 11 field goals to finish with 21 points. "Zach got going in the post and so we had a few options to run with," coach Lionel Hollins said. Randolph is averaging 16.8 points and is among the league leaders with 12.2 rebounds, but he wasn't nearly that effective in the last visit to Sacramento (13-21) on March 20. He was limited to 13 points and seven rebounds in the 119-110 loss after averaging 27.5 and 14.0, respectively, over the four previous games there. Evans also scored 13 points in that matchup with the Grizzlies after totaling 51 in the prior two home meetings. The swingman is expected to get a chance to re-establish that success against Memphis as he returns from a sore left knee that has forced him to miss 11 straight and 16 of the past 20 games. While Evans' potential return may give the Kings a lift, a rejuvenated and seemingly focused DeMarcus Cousins has been a welcome change. The third-year pro has been outstanding since serving his third suspension in less than three full seasons. Cousins has averaged 20.8 points and 13.5 rebounds in six games since missing two because of a team suspension for a verbal confrontation with coach Keith Smart during a Dec. 21 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. "I think maybe, maybe, he's turned the corner in realizing that if you want to be a star in this league, all the stars allow the other teammates to play and they make them better," Smart said. Cousins could have used some help from his teammates Saturday, when he scored 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting in a 113-93 loss at Brooklyn. That came a night after he had a season-high 31 points with a career high-tying 20 rebounds in a 105-96 win at Toronto. He scored 23 points in the latest meeting with the Grizzlies. Rudy Gay has matched that total for Memphis in each of the last three matchups, and he's coming of a 20-point performance on Sunday.
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