The Los Angeles Lakers will look to end their three-game losing streak as they host the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. Their latest loss came in a 112-95 defeat against the Houston Rockets where a slow second half start was too much for the purple and gold to overcome.
Besides dropping to 9-34, Julius Randle looked sharp in his first start since Dec. 6 as he finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season and Kobe Bryant passed the legendary Jerry West for second on the Lakers all-time assist list in the first quarter.
With their division rivals in town, the Lakers will try to avenge their 118-115 defeat against them 13 days ago, where the young core mounted back from a 27-point deficit just to fall in the final minute of the game.
The Kings frontcourt is led by one of, if not the most ferocious center in the game today, DeMarcus Cousins. Besides being known for having personnel issues since his days back at the University of Kentucky, Cousins is having another top-notch season yet again as he ranks in the top-five in both points (25.9) and rebounds (11.1) per game. Although Sacramento is still far from contending in the Western Conference, the future of their star center looks bright with his ability to dominate on both ends of the floor.
Alongside Boogie, there’s Omri Casspi and Rudy Gay at the forward positions. Although Gay isn’t the highflyer that he used to be, the nine-year veteran is still a valuable asset to their offense averaging 18 points per game and close to seven rebounds rebounds per game. As for Casspi, he’s coming off a strong outing in Sacramento’s 110-103 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday where he finished with 17 points on a 6-of-9 clip, including five three-pointers.
The resurged Rajon Rondo anchors the offense and is playing like his former All-Star self when he was a member of the the Boston Celtics. The four-time All-Star is averaging a double-double a night with 11.7 points and 11.6 assists, which is tops in the NBA. Although his questionable demeanor (similar to Cousins’) has been a problem for him in his nine-year career, it hasn’t tore the house down at least yet in his first year with Sacramento. He’s coming into Wednesday’s matchup after flirting with a triple-double in his last outing, where he finished with 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in the 110-103 win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Third year guard Ben McLemore is the other half of Sacramento’s backcourt. Besides not averaging phenomenal numbers (only averaging 7.5 points and 1.1 assists on the season), the Kansas product had 16 points against the Lakers last time in Sacramento, so the guards will have to contain him to not let him have another strong performance which helped them build a 27 point lead.
Keys to Victory:
Avoid Playing from Behind: Although the Lakers climbed back from 27 points down last time against the Kings, they’ll want to avoid falling into a huge deficit if they want to get their 10th win of the season. Slow starts have been have been detrimental all season, but after losing a nail-biter in Sacramento, expect the young core to come out looking for some redemption.
Containing DeMarcus Cousins: Like with any other star player, there’s no such thing as stopping them, but the Lakers should look to contain him and make someone else beat them. Boogie is averaging 25.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two matchups this season and is making it look easy on the offensive end. The best way to contain him is by denying him the ball in the low-post and sending in a quick double team before he utilizes his drop step. However, this requires sharp, defensive rotations and strong closeouts as a team.
Finish what They Didn’t in Sacramento: Seeing the young core fight back from a 27-point hole in Sacramento was awesome, but unfortunately they fell short in the last minute of the game. However, expect them to come in with a sense of urgency and finish what they could’ve finished in Sacramento.
Sacramento Kings (17-23) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (9-34)
7:30 PM PST, January 20, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN / 1330 (Spanish)
Kings Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ben McLemore
SF: Omri Casspi
PF: Rudy Gay
C: DeMarcus Cousins
Key Reserves: PG Darren Collison, SG Marco Belinelli, C Kosta Koufos
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Julius Randle
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: PG D’Angelo Russell, SF Anthony Brown, PF Brandon Bass