After a heartbreaking loss to the Clippers on Friday, the Kings stay in Los Angeles, where they face a Lakers roster that only remotely looks like the Lakers from the past few years. Kobe Bryant (knee) is still out of action, as is Steve Nash (back), and Los Angeles is left with Pau Gasol and a collection of journeymen (Jodie Meeks, Steve Blake) and young players who didn’t meet expectations elsewhere (Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry). Still, even with a rag-tag roster, the Lakers are somewhat beating expectations, holding down the fort waiting for Kobe to return. This won’t be a cakewalk for the Kings, but it’s a very winnable contest.
Los Angeles Lakers:
|C: DeMarcus Cousins, 6’11, Kentucky |
21.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 46.4% FG
|C: Pau Gasol, 7’0, Spain |
13.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 41.4% FG
|PF: Jason Thompson, 6’11, Rider |
6.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 46.4% FG
|PF: Jordan Hill, 6’10, Arizona |
10.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 60.9% FG
|SF: Luc Mbah a Moute, 6’8, UCLA |
4.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 47.8% FG
|SF: Wesley Johnson, 6’7, Syracuse |
7.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 37% FG
|SG: Ben McLemore, 6’5, Kansas |
8.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 38.4% FG
|SG: Jodie Meeks, 6’4, Kentucky |
13.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 50.8% FG
|PG: Greivis Vasquez, 6’6, Maryland |
10.5 PPG, 5.4 APG, 47.2% FG
|PG: Steve Blake, 6’3, Maryland |
10.2 PPG, 7.1 APG, 40.4% FG
Key Bench Players:
|G: Isaiah Thomas, 5’11, Washington |
27.7 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, 47% FG
|G: Jordan Farmar, 6’2, UCLA |
19.3 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, 38% FG
|F: Travis Outlaw, 6’8, Starkville HS |
14.9 MPG, 6.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 48.9% FG
|F: Nick Young, 6’7, USC |
24.5 MPG, 13.6 PPG, 45.3% FG
|F: Patrick Patterson, 6’9, Kentucky |
23.4 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 39.4% FG
|C: Chris Kaman, 7’0, Central Michigan |
17.3 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 49% FG
Last Three Contests:
March 30, 2013: Lakers @ Kings – Lakers 103, Kings 98
March 17, 2013: Kings @ Lakers – Lakers 113, Kings 102
November 21, 2012: Lakers @ Kings – Kings 113, Lakers 92
Key Matchup: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol is still chugging along at 33 years old, but he poses a prime matchup for Cousins down low. Pau isn’t anywhere near as talented defensively as his brother Marc (Memphis Grizzlies), and he’s struggled with Cousins many time in the past. Cousins will likely see double-teams every time he gets it down low (Jordan Hill is really a center playing Power Forward, so he will guard Cousins plenty as well).
Cousins managed to damage the double-team excellently yesterday versus the Clippers, ending up with seven assists. Still, Pau Gasol isn’t the defender DeAndre Jordan is—Cousins could have a break out game tonight.
Three Things to Watch:
1. Scrappy Lakers: Top to bottom, this Lakers roster (minus Bryant, Nash and Gasol) looks destined for the lottery. Coach Mike D’Antoni has exceeded expectations, and is getting serious contributions from a lot of young players that were written off elsewhere. Outside of Gasol and dangerous sharpshooter Nick Young, none of the Lakers individually pose a huge threat, but they’re playing tough as a unit. They currently average the 7th most assists (24.1) and 7th most rebounds (44.9) in the league. Their defense, however, is below average at 25th (103.2 points allowed). The Kings need to press the Lakers on offense.
2. Point Guard Attack: With Nash out, the Lakers are getting serious contributions from their point guard combo of Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar. Blake is having one of his better years, with 10 poits and seven assists a contest. Similarly, Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas are making the point guard position a consistent bright spot for the Kings. Neither Steve Blake nor Jordan Farmer have the athleticism to stop Thomas, so bet on him seeing more time than Vasquez.
3. The Return of PPat?: Patrick Patterson had himself a monster game against the Clippers, with 21 points and seven rebounds. If he can repeat his performance and stay consistant with his mid-range jumpers and help on the glass, he’ll draw attention off of Cousins and allow Big Cuz more freedom away from double-teams.
One of the biggest positives of Cousins this season is how he’s dominating in the post despite drawing double and triple teams. If Sacramento can just get some consistency out of their power forwards, Cousins will get much more room to operate.
Prediction: Kings 108, Lakers 97