- Tyreke Evans
- Beno Udrih
- Omri Casspi
- Carl Landry
- DeMarcus Cousins
Reserves: Samuel Dalembert, Francisco Garcia, Jason Thompson, Luther Head, Darnell Jackson, Antoine Wright, Donté Greene.
In-actives: Hassan Whiteside, Pooh Jeter.
- Derek Fisher
- Kobe Bryant
- Ron Artest
- Lamar Odom
- Pau Gasol
Reserves: Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown, Steve Blake, Derrick Caracter, Devin Ebanks, Theo Ratliff, Sasha Vujacic.
Injuries: Andrew Bynum (knee)- out, Luke Walton (hamstring)- out.
The Kings come in with an impressive 3-1 record, including 2-1 on the road. The quality of their opponent has not exactly been the marquee teams of the NBA, but you have to play the schedule in front of you. The world champion Lakers are the first real test for the young Kings. The Lakers come in with an impressive 4-0 record, but again, their opponents have a lackluster combined record of 5-8 in this early season, so they haven’t exactly been tested either.
The Kings have struggled to get it going early in their first 4 games of the season, going down by double digits in the first half in each. With the Lakers high potent offense, the Kings need to come out with intensity early or risk having the game be over shortly after it begins.
This isn’t your Kings/Lakers match-up of the last five seasons. The Kings come in much improved both in talent and experience. Last season, the Kings had very little answer for the Lakers’ size in the post. This season, the Kings have a five man rotation of very versatile bigs that includes rookie DeMarcus Cousins and veterans, Samuel Dalembert, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and – pleasant surprise – Darnell Jackson. The Lakers are without center Andrew Bynum, but still, they have talent that runs at least ten deep.
Position by position, the Kings match up well with the Lakers if that is possible. Evans will be the front line of defense against Kobe Bryant, but count on Westphal showing him different looks with Francisco Garcia and Antoine Wright. The Kings will combat the length of Pau Gasol, the Lakers leading scorer, with DeMarcus Cousins, Samuel Dalembert and Jason Thompson, while Lamar Odom and Carl Landry should have a nice battle at the power forward position. Omri Casspi will face perhaps his toughest opponent in Ron Artest. Artest is physical on both offense and defense, but if he drifts off of Casspi, he’ll get burned like Toronto and Cleveland did when Casspi hit a combined 9 for 13 from behind the arc.
The Lakers have improved their bench, adding young players in Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks as well as veterans Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff. Barnes and Landry had a little dust up in pre-season when Barnes tossed Landry onto a Laker girl. After facing off with Reggie Evans on Monday night, Carl should be ready for the pesky Barnes in this one.
The Kings are going to need to stay at home on the perimeter defensively. The Lakers are averaging 22.5 three point attempts per game in their first four games and hitting a blistering 45.6% of those attempts. Lamar Odom, Steve Blake, Sasha Vujcic, Shannon Brown and Derek Fisher are all shooting 50% or better from distance so the Kings need to avoid sagging off their men and play a lot of one on one ball against Gasol.
Marquee Match-up of the Game: Kobe Bryant vs. Tyreke Evans. The Kings second year guard has worked hard on his game, but tonight will re-enforce just how much further he has to go to be an elite player. If Evans can use his strength to land Kobe in foul trouble early, the Lakers will probably throw Artest at him like they did last season. On the defensive end, Evans needs to show that he is ready to be a true two way player. Tyreke has given glimpses of his ability to be a strong defender but not on every possession, which he will have to do if he hopes to slow down Kobe Bryant.
The Key Match-up of the Game: Carl Landry vs. Lamar Odom. Odom is as versatile as they get. If Landry can stay in front of Odom and keep him off of the boards, he can disrupt a lot of what the Lakers do on offense. Landry needs to do a better job of recognizing and passing out of the double team to open up the Kings offense even more. Lamar Odom is averaging 4.0 assists a game to Landry’s 1.2, although Landry is also turning the ball over about half as much as Odom. This position battle should be fun to watch.
Prediction: Lakers 114 Kings 108
Kings hang tough, but lose late on inexperience.
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