The Los Angeles Lakers were strong coming out of the All-Star break, as they snapped a three-game losing streak and now look to generate some momentum against the Sacramento Kings. While Lonzo Ball returned Friday, he’s sitting out the second night of a back-to-back.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton and the front office will use these last 24 games of the season to evaluate their talent heading into a franchise-defining offseason. Though not with the same optimistic outlook, the Kings are in a similar position.
While Sacramento signed veterans like Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, and George Hill (since traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers), they have a roster that features young talent in De’Aaron Fox, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Sacramento is coming off of a nail-biter at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which concluded with a Russel Westbrook buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The game was a heartbreaker for the Kings, who have seen their record spiral to 18-40.
Randolph showed that he still has a lot left in the tank, scoring 29 points and grabbing 12 rebounds with a back-to-the-basket style of play that is going extinct. Fox sat out that night and is listed as probable to suit up against the Lakers.
Even with their recent losing skid, the Lakers have won 13 of their last 20 games, with a healthy roster finally ready to fully demonstrate their talents. Walton has excelled in keeping the team focused as many external factors swirl.
Julius Randle is coming off his first career triple-double, and has shown a recent improvement in his passing abilities.
Three Keys To Victory
Play Disciplined In Open Court: The Lakers thrive in the open court, quickly establishing themselves as a fast-paced team this season. However, the open court also provides a lot of split-second decisions which can result in turnovers. With Ball out, the Lakers need to remain smart with their passes and not give the Kings any extra scoring opportunities.
Feed Off Recent Success: The success of the Lakers this season started off with their defensive approach, using communication and constant rotations to limit second-chance points for their opponents. With Walton continuing to prioritize a defensive attitude, the offense will thrive off that.
Play To Your Strengths: Although the Kings have youth on their team, they have older teammates that prefer a halfcourt set. Los Angeles can use this to their advantage, to get scorers like Randolph and Carter tired in the open court.
At the same time, Brandon Ingram, Ball, and Thomas flourish in transition opportunities and can create that separation in the second half towards a comfortable win.
Los Angeles Lakers (24-34) Vs. Sacramento Kings (18-40):
7:00 P.M. PST, February 24, 2018
Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
TV: Spectrum Sportsnet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Brandon Ingram
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Josh Hart
PF: Julius Randle
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Isaiah Thomas
Projected Kings Starting Lineup:
PG: Justin Jackson
SG: Garrett Temple
SF: Bogdan Bogdanovic
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Willey Cauley-Stein
Key Reserves: Vince Carter, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere