The Lakers close out the season on the road against the Kings. Since the team has clinched the third seed, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Lakers rested most of their stars in preparation for the playoffs. However, I fully expect Kobe to gun for the scoring title; competition is in his DNA and he never surrenders anything. The Kings are coming off a high scoring loss to the Thunder, and it seems that they still have some fight left in them despite finishing last in the Pacific Division.
Frontcourt: Since the All-Star game, Cousins has stepped up his scoring to 19.3 points per game. His averages are actually quite staggering: 17.8 points, 10.9 boards, 1.2 blocks and 1.5 steals. While the offensive stats are impressive, the defensive stats are absolutely outstanding. Few players in the league average more than one steal and one block per game. Cousins is an up and coming young center who might give Bynum a run for his money. At the four, Jason Thompson is not spectacular, but he is solid. He’s a double-double threat, but lacks the consistency to be able to play well each night. Since Marcus Thornton went down with injury, Travis Outlaw has started at small forward.
Backcourt: As a late second round draft pick, Isaiah Thomas has had a very successful rookie season. He has firmly implanted himself as the Kings point guard with starting averages of 15 points and 5.2 assists. He’s performed far better than many point guards drafted in the first round ahead of him (i.e. Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette, Nolan Smith, Corey Joseph). In contrast to Thomas, the King’s two-guard, Tyreke Evans, has continued to regress since his phenomenal rookie season. His numbers across the board are down, but on the plus side he’s managed to stay healthy throughout the season. With his talent potential and ability to drive to the hoop at will, it’s surprising that he’s only averaging 16 points per game this season.
Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
Avoid Injuries – The focus tonight will not be to win, it will be to get through the game without any injuries. The Lakers cannot afford to suffer any further injuries considering that MWP is suspended for seven games, Barnes is out with an ankle injury and Ebanks dropped a weight on his hand. Sit back and enjoy the last regular season game of the season. It’s likely the Lakers will rest a majority of their stars to prevent injury, so this could turn out to be a lackluster affair.
Christian Eyenga – In other news, Lakers fans will get their first chance to see Christian Eyenga in a Lakers uniform. This kid is a physical freak, so it will be interesting to see what he can do out there.
Los Angeles Lakers (41-24) at Sacramento Kings (21-44)
7:30 PM PST, April 26, 2012
Power Balance Pavilion, Sacramento, CA
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Kings Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Travis Outlaw
SF: Tyreke Evans
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins
Key Reserves: GF Francisco Garcia, PG Jimmer Fredette