The opponent in the Lakers’ final preseason game is once again the Sacramento Kings. It will be the third time the teams have met in the preseason, with the Kings victorious in the first two outings. The Kings’ victory in the most recent game was largely overshadowed by the return of Dwight Howard to the lineup.
The Lakers starting five showed glimpses of how special they can be, notably with the high-low combination of Pau Gasol and Howard. After sitting out Wednesday’s game against the Clippers, Howard will return to the lineup to face the Kings. The team will once again be without Kobe Bryant though, as he missed Wednesday’s game as well.
Frontcourt: DeMarcus Cousins held his own against Howard in their match-up on Sunday. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and four steals while shooting 50 percentage from the floor. As is often the norm with Cousins, he was at times inconsistent while also producing five turnovers and five fouls in just 29 minutes. His continued growth is essential to the Kings.
Rookie Thomas Robinson showed his outstanding athletic ability to the NBA in the Kings’ most recent matchup with the Lakers by tip-slamming home a missed jump shot over the back of Dwight Howard. He is still finding his niche in the league and in coach Keith Smart’s rotation, but the future is bright for him.
Backcourt: Tyreke Evans, the former Rookie of the Year, has continued his struggles from last season into this preseason. Coach Smart has been experimenting with him at the small forward position, but results have been largely the same. The preseason has seen point guards Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Thomas rotating as the starter, but Brooks figures to win out this position as the more experienced player.
Shooting guard Marcus Thornton has also been in and out of the starting lineup in the preseason, but his role on the team is not in question: he is there to score the basketball. The leading scorer on the Kings a year ago, Thornton is dangerous from beyond the three point arc as well as off the dribble.
Keys to Victory:
Better Transition Defense- The Lakers are a veteran group, with key players Steve Nash (38 years old), Kobe Bryant (34), Antawn Jamison (37), and Pau Gasol (32) all well into their thirties. Outside of Howard, they are one of the least athletic teams in the NBA. This is a major weakness of the team, and in particular on the perimeter. Though Howard masks a lot of these weaknesses with his freakish athletic gifts, the Lakers must do a better job in transition. In games without him, they gave up 53 points in transition in the two games against the Utah Jazz 28 points to the Kings in their first match-up.
More Bench Production- The Laker bench continues to be a major cause of concern. After showing signs of life in the first meeting against the Kings, they were once again a disappointment in the second match-up. No one on the bench in the second match-up posted more than a minus six on the plus/minus meter. Members of the bench must find ways to contribute in some aspect of the game, whether it is scoring, on the boards, or on the defensive end.
Sacramento Kings (4-2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (0-6)
7:00 PM PST, October 25, 2012
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA
CA TV: TWC Sports Network
Kings Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Aaron Brooks SG: Marcus Thornton SF: Tyreke Evans PF: Thomas Robinson C: DeMarcus Cousins
Key Reserves: G Isaiah Thomas, F Jason Thompson, F James Johnson