Lakers Vs. Kings Preview: Looking To Tighten Race For Pacific Division
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Los Angeles Lakers faced the Sacramento Kings, L.A. stole an impressive victory to narrow the gap between their last-place standing and the Kings’ first-place standing in the Pacific Division. Five games later, the gap has once again been widened.

The Lakers are 1-3 since their last meeting with the Kings, losing to three playoff teams in the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. Meanwhile, the Kings dominated the lower half of the standings, going 4-0 against the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets twice and San Antonio Spurs with an average margin of victory of 20.8.

But the Jan. 7 victory was one of the team’s best of the season, and especially one of their best since the injury to Anthony Davis. LeBron James — 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists — was expectedly magnificent. Thomas Bryant (29 points, 14 rebounds), Dennis Schroder (27 points), and Russell Westbrook (23 points and 15 assists) provided the exact type of boost James had been needing.

The Lakers should not have any new injuries outside of Davis, Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV. James was considered questionable leading up to the game but is able to play after another phenomenal night against the Rockets.

The Kings, meanwhile, are without Domanatas Sabonis for the Wednesday night outing due to a non-COVID illess. Their relatively clean health bill this season is part of the way they’ve carved out the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference through 42 games, although being without Sabonis is a massive loss.

As far as the guys that are playing though, The Kings’ vulnerability, as the Lakers exploited in their last matchup, is their 24th-ranked defense. L.A. scored 136 points on Jan. 7, and their offense has shown no sign of slowing down even as the injuries have stacked up. In fact, L.A. ranks 16th in offensive rating for the season, but No. 8 in their last 15 games. L.A. has been without Davis for their last 17 games and are 9-8 in that stretch.

So while the Kings have the upper hand statistically, the Lakers have shown they cannot be counted out against any opponent. And in the midst of a relatively winnable segment of games, L.A.’s focus has to be at a season-high.

Los Angeles Lakers (20-24) vs. Sacramento Kings (24-18)

7:30 p.m. PT, Jan. 18, 2023 Arena, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Wenyen Gabriel, Kendrick Nunn, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Max Christie

Projected Kings Starting Lineup:

PG: De’Aaron Fox
SG: Kevin Huerter
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Keegan Murray
C: Richaun Holmes

Key Reserves: Malik Monk, Davion Mitchell, Trey Lyles

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