(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It is March 2, 2012 and the (21-14) Los Angeles Lakers are facing the (12-23) Sacramento Kings at the Staples Center. There were actually doubts that Kobe Bryant would play against Minnesota. Kobe Bryant donned a mask, and then proceeded to drop 31-points on the T-wolves and lead the Lakers to victory. It is safe to assume if a broken nose and a concussion will not stop Kobe Bryant neither will the Sacramento Kings. Bryant averages 31-points per game against the Kings.

The Lakers trail the current season series (0-1) against the Kings after winning the last two years worth of season series (3-1 in 2010-2011 & 4-0 in 2009-2010). The Lakers are 16-8 all-time against the Kings at the Staples Center, 7-3 in their last 10 home games.  In the state capitol, the Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games at Power Balance Pavilion. The Lakers lost on December 26, 2011 to the Kings (100-91) in the second game of the year.

Photo by: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Kings are 3-7 in their last 10 games and a woeful 4-17 on the road.  The Lakers have won seven of their last 10 to improve to 21-14 and fourth place in the Western Conference. The Lakers are an impressive 15-2 at home. The Lakers have to realize that tonight’s match up is a classic ‘trap game’ and that now is not the time to look ahead to the much-hyped game against the Heat on Sunday.

The Kings are essentially running a three-guard offense. The Kings will look to speed up the pace against the Lakers and attempt to run them out of the building. Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins can all score, rebound and assist. The Kings have several weapons on their bench that can score.

Marcus Thornton leads the Kings in scoring, 18.3 points per game; DeMarcus Cousins has posted three straight double-doubles. The low post battle between DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bynum will be fun to watch. Isaiah Thomas can help the Kings play an up-tempo style that can cause the Lakers problems.

The Lakers have to establish both Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol in the painted area and allow them to go to work. Bynum & Gasol need to catch the ball in the post and make aggressive moves to the basket. The Lakers must have a strong defensive effort, good ball movement and do a solid job moving bodies to find a high percentage shot going to the basket. The Lakers bench contributed 30 points against the T-wolves, which was good, but the reserves should be able to score 35+ points per game.

The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of the guards, do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, get back in transition, control the tempo, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters. The Lakers need to limit the Kings to one shot per possession.

Starters

Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Kings: I. Thomas, T. Evans, M. Thornton, D. Cousins, J. Thompson

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: FS West (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Sacramento: Comcast Sportsnet (Grant Napear & Jerry Reynolds)

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Sacramento: 1140 AM KHTK (Gary Gerould)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Kobe  Bryant (Nasal Fracture) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral Fracture) Probable

Kings:

None