Game 66 Preview: Kings vs. Lakers

The Sacramento Kings’ season comes full circle as they host the Los Angeles Lakers in the final game of the year.

Gametime: 7:30 pm PST

Broadcast Information:  Click here.

For Lakers perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Forum Blue and Gold.

Kings Probable Starters (21-44)

Isaiah Thomas Tyreke Evans Travis Outlaw Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

The Kings end the season the way they started it – banged up.  Marcus Thornton and Terrence Williams sat out Tuesday’s loss in Oklahoma City.  Head Coach Keith Smart said pregame Terrence Williams will return to the lineup while Thornton won’t play.  Hassan Whiteside’s season finished two weeks ago after he severely sprained his right ankle against the New Orleans Hornets.  John Salmons’ year is also over.  He’s missed the Kings’ last 16 games after injuring his right hip.

Lakers Probable Starters (41-24)

Ramon Sessions Steve Blake Christian Eyenga Josh McRoberts Jordan Hill

The Lakers are locked into the three seed in the Western Conference Playoff picture.  Mike Brown is expected to rest his starters, including Kobe Bryant.  The Lakers guard had a shot to win this year’s NBA scoring title if he dropped 38 points on the Kings, but he opted to sit tonight’s game in order to rest.  Los Angeles will also be without Metta World Peace, who begins serving a seven-game suspension for throwing a nasty elbow on the Thunder’s James Harden on Sunday.

Soundbites

Pregame with Kings head coach Keith Smart on preparing for the Lakers, who are expected to play without Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

 

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

Darius Soriano of Forum Blue and Gold and James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Lakers match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Darius: Soriano While it’s not yet clear if he’ll rest tonight, I always look forward to watching Andrew Bynum do battle with DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins has the strength, length, skill and competitiveness to make this match-up worthwhile. And, with DMC playing great lately, I want to see how Bynum deals with him on both sides of the ball.

James Ham: Since there’s only one real Laker starter going tonight, I will be watching the Ramon Sessions vs. Isaiah Thomas match up.  Thomas has been a so much more than anyone could have expected for the Kings, while Sessions has been a great deadline pickup for the Lakers.  I expect Thomas to finish the season on a real high note tonight.

Jonathan Santiago:  Ramon Sessions vs. Isaiah Thomas.  With all of the Lakers’ stars probably sitting out this one, this might be the only compelling match-up left to watch.

2. Stat that decides the game…

Darius Soriano: Fast break points will be key tonight. The Lakers have struggled in transition against teams that push tempo and can change ends quickly. Whether or not the Kings can take advantage of this with Thomas, Evans, Thornton, et al pushing the pace and getting easy buckets will be a major factor in who wins.

James Ham: The stat that decided this game was the Lakers stars – Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, playing a combined zero minutes.  If the Kings can’t beat the Lakers tonight, they probably not trying.

Jonathan Santiago:  Points in the paint.  The Kings have averaged 58 points in the painted area over the course of their last three games.  Winning the battle inside is key for Sacramento, especially since Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum aren’t expected to play.

3. Are you surprised Kobe Bryant is sitting out tonight’s contest despite an opportunity to win the scoring title?

Darius Soriano: No. While I thought he would play, it doesn’t surprise me that he’d sit. Yesterday he went on record saying the scoring title doesn’t matter that much to him and when you combine that with the fact that sitting tonight gives him a week off before Sunday’s playoff game, this decision makes sense.

James Ham: I’m shocked.  Playing in his 16th season, this was probably Bryant’s last shot at a scoring title.  To sit out and not go for the 38 points he needed to take the scoring title from Durant is so counter-Kobe.  Not at all what I expected.

Jonathan Santiago:  A little bit.  I thought he would’ve given it a go and gauged how he was feeling offensively midway through the game.  Considering he missed a lengthy stretch of games recently, I thought he was at least going to play.


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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.