The Los Angeles Lakers have skyrocketed up the NBA power rankings after victories against Hawks, Warriors and Suns. They finally came down to earth with a loss versus the Dallas Mavericks but will look to get back to their winning ways tonight in Sacramento.
The Kings are an interesting team as they have struggled, losing to the likes of Milwaukee and Orlando, but also have an extremely impressive win on the road against the Toronto Raptors. Superstar center DeMarcus Cousins remains a handful to deal with, and new coach Dave Joerger has plenty of reliable veterans on his team as well.
The Lakers and the Kings are two teams that hope they will be fighting for a playoff spot when the season is coming to an end. This game has a lot of intrigue as this will be the first time the Lakers visit their division rivals in their new arena, the Golden 1 Center. The Kings had success against Los Angeles in the preseason, so Luke Walton’s team will look to stop that trend tonight.
The Sacramento Kings have veterans in their backcourt as they are starting Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo, both of whom are solid journeymen in the NBA. Lawson is extremely quick and could give the Lakers some issues on offense, but D’Angelo Russell should be able to take advantage of him in the post on the other end of the floor as well. Hopefully, Russell can use this matchup to get out of his recent offense drought.
Alongside Russell, of course, is the resurgent Nick Young who has been one of the Lakers’ best players this season. Young must continue his hot shooting while making sure that Afflalo doesn’t have another night like he did against the Lakers during the preseason.
Just as important as the starters for the Lakers has been their two guards off the bench in Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams. Clarkson could wind up being crucial as he is the Lakers only backcourt player who could match the quickness of both Lawson and Darren Collison, who recently returned from suspension. Meanwhile, Williams has been huge for the Lakers in fourth quarters this season, often closing out the game.
The Sacramento Kings have a big frontcourt as DeMarcus Cousins and Kosta Koufos give Sacramento a lot of size down low, and Rudy Gay is a fairly big small forward as well. Koufos provides a defensive presence while Gay can be tough to stop offensively if he gets going, but as usual, Cousins is the key.
Cousins is one of the top-10 players in the league. He recently added the three-point shot to his arsenal to fill the only hole he had on that side of the ball and has proven he can play good defense if he is motivated. While he has had problems with coaches in the past, Joerger seems to get Cousins. Of course, none of that has mattered when it comes to Cousins playing the Lakers as he has dominated them throughout the years.
It will be interesting to see how the Lakers match up with the Kings bigs. Timofey Mozgov and Julius Randle must work hard not only to limit Cousins’ offense but also to keep the Kings starting bigs, as well as Willie Cauley-Stein, off the glass. Randle will also need to continue his strong play as he has arguably been the best player and can potentially get the Kings in foul trouble.
Luol Deng hasn’t been great so far for the Lakers, but he will be vital in containing the dangerous Rudy Gay. The Lakers will also see the return of Larry Nance Jr. tonight.
Keys to Victory:
No Easy Points
The Lakers are turning over the ball 17.8 times a game, giving up 25.6 free throws a game, and allowing the second most attempts inside of five feet. Needless to say, the Lakers are giving up a lot of easy points, and that is simply not a recipe for consistent success.
Bring Consistent Energy
At times, Luke Walton has been forced to put in Metta World Peace to improve the team’s energy and defensive presence. Last game, Larry Nance Jr. was dearly missed as aside from his high IQ, he is always moving and can keep the Lakers energy level up. The Lakers can not let their energy level dwindle.
Make Open Three-Pointers
The Lakers are creating a lot of open jump shots for themselves, but are only shooting 23.4 percent when doing so. This is a good problem, but still a problem. The Lakers shots will need to start falling when they are wide open if they want to continually win games. This shows that the Lakers offense is creating good shots, but they need to just start making them.
Los Angeles Lakers (4-4) Vs. Sacramento Kings (4-5)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 10, 2016
Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Kings Starting Lineup:
PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Kosta Koufos
C: DeMarcus Cousins
Key Reserves: Ben McLemore, Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, Willie Cauley-Stein
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, Tarik Black