The Los Angeles Lakers head up north to face their long-time in-state rivals, the Sacramento Kings. It’s hard to imagine it today, but in the early 2000s these two teams battled each other for supremacy in the playoffs for three consecutive years. This year it looks like both teams are headed to the lottery. The Kings have shut down their top two players – DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay for the season. Both players are nursing injuries and with nothing left to play for it wasn’t worth the risk for them to engage in further basketball activity. The Lakers roster has been reduced to the B-team squad as the front office aims to give their young players as many minutes as possible before the season ends.
Frontcourt: Jason Thompson has assumed the starting center spot in Cousins’ absence. Thompson is the King’s longest tenured player in franchise history and has remained relatively average throughout his career. This season he’s averaging a pedestrian 5.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
At power forward, journeyman Carl Landry has plugged in as a starter. Landry is a veteran player who is gritty and has made the most of his career given his limited size, athleticism and shooting ability. He’s split time lately with former second round pick Derrick Williams. Williams is looking more and more like he’ll end up being talked about as a 1st round draft bust. He’s been given minutes lately to prove his worth, but hasn’t really lived up to his top pick billing. Over the last three games Williams has been coming on strong with 16.3 points and 6.3 boards so the Lakers will need to look to keep im in check.
Omri Casspi has been playing well in the month of April with averages of 18.5 points on 55.4 percent shooting and five rebounds per game. He’s a talented small forward who who is making the most of his late season playing time. Omri is doing his best to drive up his stock before he hits free agency this summer.
Backcourt: Starting point guard Ray McCallum has shown flashes of potential this season but has struggled with consistency. He’s averaging 10.8 points and 4.4 assists as a starter. McCallum’s contract isn’t guaranteed past this season and it’s rumored that the Kings plan to part ways with the young guard.
Former Kansas standout Ben McLemore is racking up a ton of minutes as the season draws to a close. He’s an athletic player who was heralded as a great shooter however he’s only knocked down 43.6 percent of his shots this season. McLemore will undoubtedly be given more time to develop as the Kings look to remake their team for the future.
Keys to Victory:
Exploit Kings’ Weakened Frontcourt: The loss of Cousins and Gay leaves two gaping holes in the Kings frontcourt. The Lakers need to do their best to exploit the Kings frontcourt and drive the ball in the paint. Tarik Black should be able to get his fair share of offensive put-backs as well. Ryan Kelly will also get an opportunity to continue his hot shooting from deep.
Jordan Clarkson: Clarkson has been a rare bright spot for the Lakers this season. In the month of April he’s posted 17.7 points, seven assists and 5.2 rebounds. Clarkson will be matched up against McCallum tonight and should have a slight advantage. It’s important for the young Laker point guard to keep making progress as the season draws to a close. Undoubtedly he will be part of the Lakers rebuilding plans over the next few years. In a season like this one, Jordan Clarkson represents the Lakers fans’ hopes for a better future.
Los Angeles Lakers (21-59) at Sacramento Kings (27-53)
7:00 PM PST, April 13, 2015
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
TV: Time Warner Sports Network
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Kings Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Ray McCallum
SG: Ben McLemore
SF: Omri Casspi
PF: Carl Landry
C: Jason Thompson
Key Reserves: F: Derrick Williams PG: Andre Miller SG: Nik Stauskas
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Jabari Brown
SF: Ryan Kelly
PF: Tarik Black
C: Ed Davis
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