Records: Lakers 41-18 (1 seed); Kings 27-35 (11 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.5 (4th); Kings 108.1 (15th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.9 (6th); Kings 111.3 (26th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Kings: Beno Udrih, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, Mikki Moore, Brad Miller
Lakers vs. Kings: Any time I feel a little sad, I just play this:
The Kobe for MVP debate. This easily is the topic Iâ€™m getting the most emails on, and most Iâ€™ve gotten on anything in a while (more than the Gasol trade). People are passionate about this. A lot of the emails are links to other people writing on the topic and there are some great discussion threads and posts out there on this, such as this one over at Lakersground. Personally, J.D. Hastings summed up my feelings on the whole award the other day:
The MVP race is a lot like the democratic primaries. Except with nothing but superdelegates.
The Kings Coming In: I said this a few days ago but it bears repeating: everything I know about the Kings I learned at Sactown Royalty.
On a positive note for the Kings â€” thereâ€™s been almost no talk of the Kings moving to Vegas this season. Which is good, because the fans in Sacramento have been loyal to a fault with the Kings, good for both the league and the teamâ€™s owners. Maybe the only â€œfaultâ€ is they wouldnâ€™t tax themselves so their owners could build a stadium on the cheap. Which I think is what how any sensible person would vote. (Yes, Okalahoma City, Iâ€™m talking about you.) Since Stern works for the owners â€” and their interests are their pocketbooks â€” heâ€™s not going to do the right thing for Sacramento or any other fan base that has stood by its team. Iâ€™m happy the moving talk is largely dead and the Kings (rumor is maybe with a remodeled arena) will be in Sacramento for years â€” so we can continue beating them regularly.
On the court, two nights ago Kevin Martin was allowed off the leash by Theus and the result was 48 points on 12 of 23 shooting and he got to the line for 24 shots. Problem is, the Kings still lost. To the Timberwolves. At home.
Artest is questionable for tonightâ€™s game due to a sore foot. He missed the last two games.
Didnâ€™t We Just Play These Guys: The Lakers played six minutes of quality basketball in Sacramento Tuesday. That was enough. Kobe had 34 and Pau had 31 on 10 of 15 shooting. It was an intense, physical game, expect more of that tonight.
Keys To The Game: Just a few days ago the Lakers got away with playing up to their potential for six minutes and still walking away with a win. I love wins, but that one was hardly well earned. Play better defense from the start and we can once again get plenty of Son of George entertainment.
In that late run last meeting, Kobe worked hard to deny Martin the ball, and the Kings went to a lot of Ron Artest isolation with Odom. Really, Artest took a lot of shots all game (and hit them despite some solid defense from Odom). If he plays tonight Iâ€™m good with a repeat of that, Artest is not normally that efficient and forcing the Kings into more isolation offense slows their effectiveness (like kick-outs to Brad Miller for the midrange when his defender collapses to protect the basket). What I think we will see is a lot of Martin early, so the Lakers need to be ready and throw different defensive looks at him.
Also, the Lakers should dominate when the benches are on the floor, but they didnâ€™t last game (in fact the bench was outscored 24-9). The Lakers need a better night from the subs.
Where you can watch: The game is at 6:30 (Pacific) on Fox Sports in Los Angeles and League Pass nationally.