Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Kings

Ryan Cole —  February 28, 2014

The Lakers have lost three games in a row, and seven of their last 10. It’s been pretty tough to say the least, and with guys on the roster unhealthy for extended periods of time, games have been difficult to win. For some players, frustrations are at an all-time high.

Earlier this week, Pau Gasol wasn’t bashful in voicing his critics of head coach Mike D’Antoni, as he has become displeased with the consistent losing and lack of chemistry that this team has on the court.

Tonight, the Lakers are looking to get back on the winning track, as the face the Sacramento Kings. Both teams are in the heart of the “tank” sweepstakes, respectively holding the worst records in the western conference. The Kings will be without their leader, and captain, Demarcus Cousins, as he has been suspended for getting into an altercation with Patrick Beverley in a game against the Houston Rockets.

One bright spot for the Lakers has been the late the play of new addition Kent Bazemore. In his four games with the Lakers he’s averaged 17.3 points, three assists, and two steals, on 45 percent shooting from the field and 35 percent shooting from behind the arc.

More than anything, Bazemore’s effort has been a pleasant sight for fans to see amidst this tough and grueling season, and we should expect him to continue playing with passion and energy tonight.

Keys To Lakers Victory:
Limit Turnovers: The Lakers are going to need to make a consistent effort to take care of the ball. Trading Steve Blake to the Warriors has placed this team in an unfortunate position, as they now only have two active point guards.

We should expect the Kings to try to pressure the Lakers ball handlers. Doing this will allow them to get out in transition and run.

Offensive Efficiency: The Kings allow their opponents to shoot 37.5% from behind the arc and the Lakers will have to capitalize on this if they want to win tonight. The Lakers have shot consistently from the three-point line this season, and this is simply a result of the small-ball system that Mike D’Antoni runs.

The Kings are far from a good defensive team, so it’s important that the Lakers exploit this. Attack them inside, whether it be via penetration or isolating the big men on the block. On a night like this it’s also key that guys like Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman get minutes. With no Demarcus Cousins, the Lakers will have a decided advantage in the front court, and should give the bigs consistent touches.

Defense: The Lakers will have their hands full tonight despite the fact that Demarcus Cousins will not be suiting up. Even without the skilled big, the Kings still boast one of the more athletic and talented young rosters in the NBA.

It will be a tough night defending the point guard and small forward position, as both Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay have proven to be very efficient scorers this season. In all likelihood, Kent Bazemore will be matched up against Gay. He’ll have to make it his duty to force Gay to take tough shots. If he can’t, it’ll be a long night for the Lakers defense.

This is the game that the Lakers can use to get on the winning track. With players and fans frustrated, this team is dire need of a win, and they should have a good chance getting it tonight.

Where you can watch: 7:30 pm start time out west on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Ryan Cole