The Sacramento Kings begin their eight-game road trip Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies and they’ll have to do it without the services of Rudy Gay. Sacramento’s starting small forward went down in the third quarter of the Kings’ loss to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night and will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
Gay isn’t the only ailing player for the Kings. Omri Casspi is out 1-2 weeks with a strained calf muscle, leaving coach Dave Joerger shorthanded at the wing position. Joerger has used Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes and Ben McLemore at the three and will need someone to step forward and help pick up the slack without Gay’s 18.7 points per game.
Memphis has hit a rough patch in their schedule. The Grizzlies have dropped three of their last four games, including two straight, but they are still tied for the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. Rookie head coach David Fizdale has a veteran group that coach Joerger knows well after coaching in Memphis the previous three seasons.
Grizzlies by 6.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marc Gasol -- Cousins has carried plenty of weight for the Kings this season, but his team is going to need even more from the big fella with the loss of Gay. Cousins is averaging a career-best 4.4 assists and over his last three games, he’s posted a whopping 9.3 dimes per game. Gasol is having his best scoring season of his nine-year career, leading the Grizzlies at 19.6 points per game. Like Cousins, Gasol can really move the ball and he’s added the 3-point shot to his game this season.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 16-25, third place in Pacific
Grizzlies: 25-19, third place in Southwest
Kings: SF Rudy (left Achilles tendon) out for the season, SF Omri Casspi (calf strain) out, PG Ty Lawson (left ankle) questionable.
Grizzlies: F Brandan Wright (ankle) out, F Deyonta Davis (foot) questionable.
These two clubs have split the season series 1-1, with each team picking up a win on the road. The Kings hold a 44-36 record against the Grizzlies all-time.
“We’ve got an eight game road trip, we’ve got to come together closer and closer, not drift apart.” Ty Lawson following the loss of Rudy Gay
SAN JOSE – Logan Couture got all the attention postgame, and rightfully so, but there were some other notable developments from the Sharks’ 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Here are three takeaways from San Jose’s third straight win…
1 – Finding a way
It was easy to tell on Wednesday night in the visitor’s dressing room at Staples Center that the Sharks’ win over the Kings was maybe their most rewarding of the season, being down some key players yet taking the rubber match of the five-game season series.
The flip side of that is the game with the Lightning, on the second of a back-to-back against a non-rival, was tougher to get up for. The Sharks found a way, though, despite getting a bit overwhelmed over the first half of the first period.
“We expected the first 10 minutes to be tough coming back from L.A., an emotional win, and they're sitting here waiting for us,” Pete DeBoer said. “I thought we kept them to the perimeter, even though the shot clock wasn't in our favor. As the game went on, I thought we got better."
Aaron Dell said: "We were a little bit tired to start, I think. I think they knew that, so they made an early push. I think we fended it off pretty well."
DeBoer pointed out after the game that the other teams around the Sharks in the Pacific Division are winning lately, too. Anaheim is 5-0-1 in its last six, while the Oilers have won four straight since losing to the Sharks last week.
“We have to find a way, and tonight was one of those find-a-way games,” he said. “They're not easy to play. The deck's stacked against you coming in. We found a way."
2 – Carpenter contributing
Rookie Ryan Carpenter admitted he was a bit surprised to see his name in the lineup when he got to the rink on Thursday. Even with Couture and Joonas Donskoi healthy again, Carpenter remained as the fourth line center, while injured forwards Timo Meier and Micheal Haley were not able to play.
His goal in the second period staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead, marking the second straight game that a fourth liner got on the board in what was another one-goal victory.
The Sharks were pressing the Lightning in their own end before Carpenter hopped over the boards, and he was the beneficiary of some tired defenders.
“[Joel Ward] does a good job in front of the net to create traffic, and even the shift before that, they got a lot of zone time and I just kind of jumped out there,” Carpenter said. “Kind of benefited from that, so that was nice.”
The way he’s played, it’s fair to wonder if Carpenter could be the latest Barracuda player to push one of the regulars out of the lineup. He’s been effective.
“He's been hard, he's been physical, he's a big body and defensively responsible, and he's chipped in some offense,” DeBoer said. “He plays the way we want to play. He's done a real good job for us."
3 – Important win for Dell
Any good NHL goaltender has to have an ability to put bad games, and bad goals, behind them. Aaron Dell wasn’t awful in Calgary on Jan. 11, but he looked shaky for the majority of the game.
Not against the Lightning, though. Dell played very well, particularly early when the Sharks weren’t skating very well in front of him, and late, when they were holding on to that slim one goal edge.
“We like playing in front of him,” Joe Pavelski said. “You see him, he’s aggressive, he’s into the game, he’s attacking pucks. That’s everything you want from your goalie. He’s made all the saves that we can ask him to make.”
The one he allowed was impossible to stop, as Jonathan Drouin easily held off Mikkel Boedker (who was benched for the third period again) in the neutral zone and skated around Marc-Edouard Vlasic before slipping it through.
“He's a skilled player, made a skilled play,” Dell said. “I didn't think he could get it around me on that one."
Vlasic, of course, rarely gets beat like that. He joked that when he saw he was requested by the media after the game, “I knew you were going to ask me about that.”
“We won the game. It was 2-1. It was a positive win, so we’ll take the positives from the win,” Vlasic said.