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Game 36 Preview: Kings at Lakers


In the second of four games in five nights, the Sacramento Kings head to Los Angeles for a meeting with the Lakers.  The Kings got the best of the Lakers in the season opener, beating Los Angeles 100-91 at Power Balance Pavilion.

Gametime: 7:30 pm PT

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Lakers perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network affiliate Forum Blue And Gold.

Kings Probable Starters (12-23)

Isaiah Thomas Marcus Thornton Tyreke Evans Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reports that Keith Smart will return next season.

“Yes,” (Kings’ owner Joe) Maloof said emphatically when asked if Smart’s option would be picked up. “With no disrespect to our past coaches, we really have someone who everybody likes now. The players like him, the basketball staff likes him, we trust him, and he knows the game. Keith Smart is a wonderful coach, and we’re lucky to have him. … Yes, we’ll pick it up. We want him to be our coach forever.”

The Kings head coach signed a two-year deal with a team option after assuming coaching duties from Paul Westphal, who was fired seven games into the season.

Hickson Injury Update (via Kings press release):

Sacramento Kings’ forward J.J. Hickson suffered a hip pointer in last night’s game versus the Los Angeles Clippers at Power Balance Pavilion. Tests (X-ray and MRI) taken today revealed that there were no fractures. He will miss the next three games and be re-evaluated when the team returns from their current road trip on Tuesday.

Lakers Probable Starters (21-14)

Derek Fisher Kobe Bryant Metta World Peace Pau Gasol Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and for good reason.  The Lakers center averages 16.2 points and 12.8 points per game this season – both career highs.  Bynum aggravated his surgically repaired right knee against Oklahoma City last week, but has since undergone treatment that’s helped.

After breaking his nose and suffering a concussion in the All-Star Game, Kobe Bryant also comes into tonight’s contest banged up.  The superstar guard scored 31 points in Wednesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, but sat out yesterday’s practice and instead received treatment on his neck .

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

Brian Kamenetzky and Arash Marakazi of ESPN Los Angeles join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Lakers match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Brian Kamenetzky: L.A.’s offense vs. Sacto’s transition D. The Lakers are an elite defense in the half court, and the Kings offense is awful. In transition, though, the Lakers are far more average while Sacramento shines. If the Lakers don’t take care of the ball or get wonky in their shot selection, they’ll give the Kings easy run out opportunities, likely keeping them in a game the Lakers otherwise ought to control.

Arash Markazi: Kobe Bryant vs. The Kings. OK, so that’s not really a particular matchup but I can’t help but think on the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points that Bryant will not try to go off in this one. He’s already leading the league in scoring and putting up his best numbers since 2007 when it was a similar one-man show when he dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors.

Jonathan Santiago: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Andrew Bynum.  The last time these two teams played, Andrew Bynum was serving a four-game suspension for a flagrant foul on J.J. Barea committed in the 2011 playoffs.  Bynum just earned his first All-Star nod and Cousins looks like he’s on track to follow.

2. Stat that decides the game

Brian Kamenetzky: Points in the paint. If the Lakers get the ball effectively to the post, whether with the bigs or Kobe Bryant, they can take advantage of a soft Sacramento defense, controlling their offense in the process. If the Kings win the stat, it likely means they’re getting easy baskets breaking down L.A.’s defense from the outside in.

Arash Markazi: Points in the paint. The Lakers usually dominate this category with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol but the Kings can hold their own with DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton. If the Kings can win the battle of the paint and get some easy points at the basket by penetrating the paint with their quicker guards, the Kings will be in position to pull the upset.

Jonathan Santiago: Offensive rebounds.  Averaging 4.6 boards per game, DeMarcus Cousins is the league’s best offensive rebounder.  Andrew Bynum is the league’s third-best defensive rebounder, averaging 9.4 rebounds per game.  The Kings’ chances of winning usually improve if they control the offensive glass.

3. At NBA All-Star Weekend, Lakers center Andrew Bynum said it’s “terrible” Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has to “play in Sacramento”.  Do you agree with Bynum and believe Cousins would be better off playing elsewhere?

Brian Kamenetzky: Depends what you mean by better. In a better market? Sure. A bigger one? Definitely. But is a bigger market with more distractions a good thing for him? In some ways, it seems like Sacramento is the perfect spot for someone like him, if the Kings can put the right people around him and Cousins is willing to grow up.

Arash Markazi: Yes. I think DeMarcus Cousins has the talent to be one of the best big men in the league and I’m not sure Sacramento is the best place for him to realize his full potential. Changing coaches might have been a nice short-term fix this season but I think Cousins will need a change of scenery before we can start comparing him to some of the best big men in the league.

Jonathan Santiago: No.  Playing in the top media markets (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, etc.) is overrated in today’s socially-networked world.  Sure, he’d make more money, have better earning power, but the distractions aren’t worth the trouble.  And this Kings’ team is pretty talented; it just needs a little more seasoning before taking the next step.

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