Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Kurt —  January 1, 2010

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Records: Lakers 23-5 (1st in West) Kings 13-15 (13th in West)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 107.5 (15th in league), Kings 109.1 (9th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 99.4 (2nd in league) Kings 110.4 (27th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Kings: Beno Udrih, Donte Green, Omar Casspi, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes

Lakers Tonight: Still no Ron Artest tonight. Phil Jackson has started Odom since Artest went down, but tonight he is considering going small (starting Shannon Brown or Sasha at the two and sliding Kobe to the three). Whether or not he starts that way you can expect to see some of that tonight.

Aside that, it’s all about the Lakers defense.

The Kings Coming In: Super rookie Tyreke Evans sprained his knee and will miss his third straight game. The bad news for the Lakers is that Beno Udrih will start at point and had 23 when they got together last week, which included a 10-point second quarter where he shot 4 of 7 and beat both Fisher and Farmar.

Kings blogs: The Kings have one of the very best NBA blogs out there with SacTown Royalty. Tom Ziller is a hero of mine. Also, Zach at Cowbell Kingdom is doing great work.

Keys to game: We can only hope that the game tonight is as entertaining as the last meeting. That said, I would consider a taco blowout entertaining.

Last meeting, the Kings started doubling the post more and more as the game went on, the Lakers were spotty about recognizing it and making the smart pass out. We can expect the doubles to return, the Lakers need to make the smart pass out, then the wing players need to hit the good-look three. The Lakers can do it, they just have not been consistent about it.

Tonight is pick-and-roll defense practice for the Lakers, with bigs that need to come out and cut off the penetration, and there needs to be good rotations behind them. The Kings have a big (Hawes) that can pull the Lakers out of the post, the Lakers need to make the smart plays behind them.

Jason Thompson was physical with Pau Gasol last meeting, and as the game wore on Gasol struggled to deal with it well (save for the overtimes). I expect he will reverse that trend tonight, but it is something to watch.

Where you can watch: 7:30 p.m. start on Fox Sports here in Los Angeles, and of course ESPN 710 radio.