Game Preview: Lakers at Kings Opening Night

In case you missed this TNT video yesterday, here is some incredible primer to get your heart pumping.

The Sacramento Kings open up the 2011-12 season this evening against their longtime rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.  Regardless of tonight’s outcome, the emotions of the evening will be at a fever pitch, as Kings fans return to Arco Arena/Power Balance Pavilion for an improbable 27th season.  The Kings are young upstarts, with two new veteran starters, while the Lakers are a much different team than in previous seasons.

Gametime:  7 pm PST

Television Coverage:  NBA TV, Comcast Sportnet California

Radio Coverage:  1140 AM The Fan

For perspective on the Lakers , visit fellow THN blog Forum Blue and Gold.

Kings Starters

  • Tyreke Evans
  • Marcus Thornton
  • John Salmons
  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Chuck Hayes

John Salmons is back for a second tour of duty with the Sacramento Kings.  He joins the newly signed Chuck Hayes along with last season starters – Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins.  Although Salmons is banged up (recovering from a right thigh contusion), expect him to play major minutes guarding Kobe Bryant.  The Kings tout a substantially deeper bench than past seasons.  Rookie Jimmer Fredette will play major minutes at guard, possibly teaming with veteran swingman Francisco Garcia.  The Kings will rely on veteran Travis Outlaw to help out at both the small and power forward positions, depending on match-ups, while J.J. Hickson and Jason Thompson finish out the rotation in the post.

Lakers Starters

  • Derek Fisher
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Devin Ebanks
  • Josh McRoberts
  • Pau Gasol

The Lakers play their second game of a back-to-back-to-back set to start the season.  Devin Ebanks and Josh McRoberts started the season opener against the Chicago Bulls with veterans Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) and newly signed Troy Murphy coming off the bench.  The Lakers are without starting center Andrew Bynum, who is serving a four-game suspension stemming from a cheap shot on then-Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea in the last game of the Western Conference  Semifinals.

The Lakers struggled to close out the Bulls on Christmas Day, losing by a final score of 88-87.  Surprisingly, the Lakers used a line-up of Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts and Pau Gasol in crunch time.  McRoberts is athletic and all over the glass, while Ebanks looks like a slower, less athletic version of Trevor Ariza.  Sacramento-native Matt Barnes received a surprising DNP-CD on opening night.

Matchup of the Night

DeMarcus Cousins versus Pau Gasol: The Kings second-year big man models his game after Gasol.  Cousins needs to keep his cool and play like the player who tallied 27 points and 10 rebounds in a January 28th, 2011 win over the Lakers, instead of the one  ejected after just 14 minutes in last season’s regular season finale.  Gasol has taken a beating for his playoff performance last season.  He didn’t exactly set the world on fire in yesterday’s opener either, posting 14 points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes of action.  If the Lakers hope to contend in 2011-12, they need Gasol to turn back the clock and be the offensive force Kobe needs in the paint.

Rookie Watch

Jimmer Fredette versus Andrew Goudelock:  The Kings are counting on Jimmer to fill the hole left by the offseason trade of Beno Udrih.  We all know Jimmer can shoot the rock, but the Kings need him to be more than Steve Kerr.  So far, Jimmer has shown the ability to facilitate, as  well as score.  The Lakers landed Goudelock in the second round of the 2011 NBA draft.  The 6′-3 guard out of the College of Charleston, attempted an amazing 322 three-pointers as a senior, hitting on 41 percent of those attempts.  In his first game as a pro, Goudelock shot the ball three times, all from distance, hitting two and finishing with six points.  If Jimmer gives Goudelock space, expect the Lakers rookie to come up firing and vice versa.

comments

Tags

About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.