After a furious 2nd half comeback that allowed the Lakers to save face with a win vs. a bad Bulls team Tuesday, the Lakers are right back in action tonight in Sacramento against the Kings. Like the Bulls, the Kings have a poor record, winning only 4 games to their 13 losses.
This is surely not what the Kings wanted nor expected after chasing veteran free agents this past summer to help bring along their slew of recent draft picks.
George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter were added to a core with Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere as the returning young guys as well as this year’s draft picks of De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason, and Harry Giles. With this haul of young players and the vets, Dave Joerger was expected to help lead the Kings back to being a decent team even though DeMarcus Cousins is gone.
Instead, the Kings are as bad as ever, boasting the conference’s 2nd worst record. One has to wonder if Joerger will end up on the hot seat as Vivek and his lack of patience lurk from the owner’s suite.
Coming into this game, the hype will surely on the matchup of rookie point guards Ball and Fox. Kings fans take special joy in trying the anoint their young lead guard the better prospect, especially after their meetings in college — particularly during the NCAA Tournament. Add to that Lonzo missing the summer league game against the Kings and Fox (only to have Alex Caruso put the clamps on, but I digress) and this “rivalry” is one many are invested in building up.
I, though, don’t have many thoughts on this. Fox is a fine young player who’s athletic gifts currently outpace his productivity. That’s normal for young guards in this league, especially one-and-done PG’s who come into the NBA as teenagers. The learning curve is steep and when there are some skill deficiencies (like shooting woes), it makes life hard. Both Fox and Ball understand this well.
Instead, then, what I’m looking at for this game is how well the Lakers can recover from a difficult game last night and whether there is any sort of hangover — either mentally or physically — from that game. Traveling to Sacramento from Los Angeles is not a difficult trip, so I’m less concerned about that aspect of it all even if it cannot be dismissed entirely. Still, though, the Lakers had to expend a lot of energy to win Tuesday against Chicago and that will matter this game.
So, look for signs of fatigue as the game wears on. Are rotations missed? Are the bigs moving their feet to box out and on defensive switches? Do guys make the extra pass or settle for isolation plays or longer jumpers? These are things tired teams do and as this contest advances, look to see if the Lakers fall into these traps.
Beyond that, I’ve actually go little to say about this game. Typically, the Kings get up to play the Lakers and the fact that this game is in Sacramento almost guarantees there will be an energy in the building. The Lakers have also shown they’re more than willing to not play up to their own level against teams with poor records and I’m not sure if the scare vs. the Bulls will change that. So, it would not surprise me if the Lakers came out slow or, as noted earlier, fade as the game goes on.
Nor would I be surprised if the Lakers rally behind inspired play from their bench, that Lonzo has one of those games where he hits shots (which is more likely on the road), or that Lopez finds the range on his jumper. If any of these things happen, the Lakers could easily exit this game only a single game under .500 — anything can happen in this league.
Enjoy this one, folks. It’s the night before Thanksgiving, after all.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet and ESPN.