Even in a loss, the Lakers were able to show what they are all about in their 114-108 loss on Sunday to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers twice rallied from 20 point deficits and gave the Blazers everything they could handle before ultimately falling late.
Both Xavier Henry and Robert Sacre posted career highs in points, but the Lakers also received bad news as Jordan Farmar suffered a torn hamstring and will be out for the next four weeks. Kobe Bryant still isn’t quite ready to return, but that date is getting closer and closer.
These two teams met just a couple of weeks ago and the Lakers were victorious in Los Angeles as both Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill posted double-doubles. The Lakers come in with a 9-9 record while the Kings are 4-12.
In the first game, the Lakers frontcourt dominated against the Kings. Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Hill also grabbed 13 rebounds and the two combined to limit the always dangerous DeMarcus Cousins to only 17 points on 6-14 shooting. The other Kings forwards were virtually nonexistent as Jason Thompson and Patrick Patterson combined for only five points on 2-7 shooting.
Cousins missed the Kings last game with a sprained ankle, but should be good to go Friday night. The big difference for the Kings, however, is the addition of Derrick Williams who brings far more offensive punch than former starter Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Williams will be a tough cover for Wesley Johnson as he is extremely strong, and is probably more of a power forward than small forward, but has the skills to play out on the perimeter.
The Lakers must win the rebounding battle again if they plan on being successful in this second go-around with the Kings. They must also attack Cousins defensively as he has tendencies to be lazy on defense which could lead to him picking up some early fouls. If he is limited in any way, the Kings offense will suffer.
This very likely could be where the game is won. The injury to Jordan Farmar leaves the Lakers with Steve Blake as the only healthy point guard on the team. His matchup with the tall and talented Grevis Vasquez is a tough one as Vasquez led the Kings in scoring in the first matchup.
Where the loss of Farmar could really hurt the Lakers in this game is defensively matching up with the explosive Isaiah Thomas off the bench. The Lakers were able to hold the Kings’ second leading scorer to only nine points and that will be extremely tough to do a second time without Farmar.
The question now becomes who will take over the ball handling duties while Blake is on the bench. Late against the Blazers the Lakers relied on a combination of Xavier Henry and Jodie Meeks to bring the ball up the court. Against guys who do a good job of creating turnovers such as Thomas and Vasquez, that could be a problem.
Ben McLemore has also been playing better lately and is capable of getting hot very quickly. This is a backcourt full of players who can light it up and the Lakers have to figure out a way to contain them.
Keys To Lakers Victory:
Taking Care Of The Ball: The Lakers did an excellent job taking care of the ball in the first matchup, committing only ten turnovers. With only one healthy point guard, that might be a difficult feat to match in the second battle.
The Lakers have not picked up another point guard for the time being, meaning the onus will be on the likes of Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry, and Nick Young to handle the ball when Steve Blake needs to take a rest. While all are capable ball handlers, it is a different story to expect guys to handle the ball under pressure on a regular basis.
The Kings are one of the best teams in the league at taking care of the ball and do a decent job of forcing turnovers on their end. Expect them to bring a lot of pressure when Blake is out of the game to test the Lakers and try to get some easy baskets.
Controlling The Block: DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most talented big men in the game today and he is the hub of the Kings offense. Even though the Lakers did an excellent job of making him work for his points last game, Cousins was also able to dish out seven assists against the Lakers.
As a whole, the Lakers duo of Gasol and Hill dominated the Kings bigs offensively and on the boards. That must continue, especially with the addition of Derrick Williams to the Kings front line. Wesley Johnson has been an excellent rebounder from the small forward position and he will have to continue his stellar play to limit Williams.
Don’t expect Patterson and Thompson to be as ineffective this time as they were in the last game. That means Hill and Robert Sacre will have to step their game up to maintain the Lakers dominance down low.
Three-Point Shooting: One area where the Lakers have a decided advantage over the Kings is their three-point shooting. The Lakers have far more consistent shooters and they have been on fire lately. Blake, Meeks, Johnson, and Young in particular have really gotten going lately, and a big time shooting performance could help the Lakers push this game out of reach.
The Kings have players capable of making shots, but guys like John Salmons and Marcus Thornton are streaky shooters who can just as quickly shoot their team out of a game, while Vasquez and McLemore are average shooters at best.
The Lakers were able to defeat the Kings despite a bad shooting night from deep. If this game turns into a shooting contest, you have to like the Lakers chances.
Los Angeles Lakers (9-9) @ Sacramento Kings (4-12)
7:00 PM PST, December 6, 2013
Sleep Train Arena Sacramento, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPNLA
Kings Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Greivis Vasquez
SG: Ben McLemore
SF: Derrick Williams
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins
Key Reserves: PG Isaiah Thomas PF Patrick Patterson SG Marcus Thornton SF John Salmons