The Los Angeles Lakers get a nice break for Thanksgiving, but before then they have a road game in against the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers are looking to go into the holiday on a three-game winning streak.
Los Angeles is coming off a comeback win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night in which they erased a 19-point deficit. Kyle Kuzma was the Lakers’ leading scorer, but it was the energy of Julius Randle and Josh Hart that changed the momentum before Kentavious Caldwell-Pope took over in the fourth quarter.
At 4-13, the Kings currently have the second-worst record in the Western Conference and have lost five of their last six games. The Kings have also been dealing with injuries, as Buddy Hield and Vince Carter have been out recently.
Of course, much of the focus tonight will be on the matchup between rookie point guards Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox. It marks the first time the two friends have met since UCLA and Kentucky faced off in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last March.
Both Hield (sprained ankle) and Carter (kidney stones) are hoping to return for tonight’s game, which would give the Kings a much-needed boost in their backcourt. Hield especially would be welcomed back as he’s the team’s second-leading scorer and a dangerous shooter who hits almost 40 percent from deep.
Fox has been up-and-down so far which is to be expected, but he remains a blur in the open court and a solid finisher around the rim. George Hill hasn’t been quite what the Kings had hoped, as he is averaging less than 10 points per game, but the veteran is always capable of getting hot.
Ball still hasn’t figured out his shooting issues but he continues to excel in the other facets of the game. He’s recorded two straight double-digit rebounding performances, makes plays on defense, and sets up teammates regularly.
Next to him is Caldwell-Pope, who is coming off one of his better performances. He scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter Tuesday night and will undoubtedly draw the job of guarding Hield should the second-year guard return.
Jordan Clarkson remains the ideal first guard off the bench, thriving both on and off the ball while rookie Josh Hart seems to be finding his stride as a defensive stopper.
One player to watch out for off the Kings bench is Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is capable of scoring many ways. He is the type of player the Lakers have allowed to have a big game in the past.
Veteran Zach Randolph is the centerpiece of the Kings’ frontcourt. The Kings’ leading scorer, ‘Z-Bo’ remains a load to deal with on the block, but he will have to deal with the size and length of Brook Lopez.
Even though Lopez has been up and down offensively, he averages nearly two blocks a game, which is a team-best clip. Speaking of leading the Lakers, Kuzma leads the in scoring at 16.8 points per game after another excellent effort against the Bulls.
Likewise, Brandon Ingram has been on an excellent run as of late, showcasing his aggression and all-around game. The two young forwards have shown the ability to be the focal points of the Lakers’ offense and that should continue against a Kings team that struggles defensively.
Ingram will likely be matched up with Garrett Temple, who is a solid defender, but lacks the size to challenge Ingram’s shot with any sort of regularity. Next to him is Skal Labissiere who has been extremely inconsistent in his early tenure in the NBA.
Willie Cauley-Stein will see plenty of minutes off the Kings’ bench and while he doesn’t bring much offensively, his length and athleticism make him a big weapon on defense. Kosta Koufos is another big body who can score inside.
For the Lakers, Randle continues to impress and has earned more minutes in recent contests. Veteran Corey Brewer provides defense and energy as well and has come through when the Lakers have needed it most on the road.
Three Keys to Lakers Victory
Attack the Glass: The Kings are the second-worst rebounding team in the NBA and give up 14.1 second chance points per game. The Lakers must take advantage of this, and create more opportunities and easy baskets for themselves.
Don’t Create New Stars: We’ve seen it multiple times this year as Aron Baynes, Dragan Bender, and Antonio Blakeney have had career nights against the Lakers. Facing a less-talented team like the Kings, the Lakers can’t allow an unknown role player to get hot and dominate.
Respect the Opponent: For some reason the Lakers have seemingly come out against both the Bulls and Phoenix Suns as though they were in for an easy win. That led to huge early deficits and uninspired play. The Lakers should’ve learned their lesson by now and come out ready to play against a Kings team who will be motivated.
Los Angeles Lakers (8-10) Vs. Sacramento Kings (4-13)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 21, 2017
Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Corey Brewer, Josh Hart
Projected Kings Starting Lineup:
PG: De’Aaron Fox
SG: George Hill
SF: Garrett Temple
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Skal Labissiere
Key Reserves: Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Vince Carter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kosta Koufos, Frank Mason III
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