The Los Angeles Lakers are set to play their annual preseason game in Las Vegas Sunday night, hosting the Sacramento Kings at the T-Mobile Arena.
This year the game is being played for a greater cause though, as the two organizations have banded together in conjunction with the T-Mobile Arena, AEG and MGM Resorts International, to donate all the proceeds from Sunday’s game directly to benefit the victims, their families and first responders of last week’s shooting at the Route 91 Music Festival through the MGM Resorts Foundation.
The Lakers will be without their starting point guard in the game, as Lonzo Ball will be missing his second straight game with an ankle injury. Head coach Luke Walton said it’s a possibility that the injury causes him to miss the remainder of the preseason.
While Ball will be out, the Lakers will be bolstered by the return of center Brook Lopez, who will be making his preseason and Lakers debut. The former All-Star missed the first three games with a back injury.
With Ball out, Tyler Ennis will likely get another start at point guard for the Lakers. Ennis has had a solid preseason so far, averaging 7.0 points and 4.3 assists in limited minutes.
Ennis will have the tough task of guarding either George Hill or rookie De’Aaron Fox. With Hill only playing one game so far, Fox has gotten an opportunity to play extended minutes and has made the most of it, averaging 14.0 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 63.2 percent from the field this preseason. Fox is an extremely fast guard, so Ennis may have a difficult time keeping him in front of him.
The Kings other young guard, Buddy Hield, will be looking to make big strides in his second season in the league. Hield played extremely well after being traded to the Kings at the trade deadline last year, averaging 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 25 games.
Laker fans will get their first look at Lopez Sunday night, as he was acquired this summer as a part of the trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets. Last season in Brooklyn Lopez averaged 20.5 points and 5.4 rebounds. His 134 made three-pointers were the most among centers.
In addition to Ball, the Lakers have another young rookie in Kyle Kuzma that has been extremely impressive this preseason. Kuzma is leading the team in scoring at 21 points per game while shooting 65.8 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range. If Kuzma’s strong play continues he could himself starting alongside Brook Lopez and Brandon Ingram in the frontcourt.
Speaking of Ingram, he will be returning Sunday after missing the last game with a head contusion. He hasn’t shot the ball well this preseason so he will look to get back on track.
The Kings frontcourt features two more young players in Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. Labissiere came on strong at the end of his rookie season last year, while his fellow Kentucky product, Cauley-Stein, is developing into one of the better paint protectors in the league.
Three Keys To Victory:
Continue to improve on defense: A lot of the emphasis this training camp was on the defensive side of the ball, and rightfully so as the Lakers were one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season. The results haven’t been there yet though as they have given up 116.3 points per game so far this preseason. As long as they continue to improve each game, starting with Sunday, they will get to where they want to be on that end.
Get Ingram going: Ingram has struggled so far in the two games he’s played this preseason, but if the Lakers want to be successful this season he will need to be a big part of it as the team’s best pure scorer. Getting Ingram going offensively will give him confidence leading into the regular season.
Stay healthy: Luckily no Lakers players have gotten seriously injured this preseason, but there have been some nagging injuries they’ve had to deal with. The regular season is just over a week away so staying healthy is the most important thing for the Lakers right now.
Los Angeles Lakers (0-3) Vs. Sacramento Kings (1-1)
6:00 P.M. PST, October, 8, 2017
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/ 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Kings Starting Lineup:
PG: George Hill
SG: Buddy Hield
SF: Vince Carter
PF: Skal Labissiere
C: Willie Cauley-Stein
Key Reserves: De’Aaron Fox, Zach Randolph, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Justin Jackson, Bogdan Bogdanovic
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Tyler Ennis
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Julius Randle
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, Corey Brewer, Luol Deng