Photo by Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

It’s April 26, 2012 and the (41-24) Los Angeles Lakers are in the state capitol to battle the (21-44) Sacramento Kings. The Lakers double-overtime 114-106 win over the OKC Thunder was a win that the Lakers had to have. The win over OKC; L.A.’s fourth comeback win, was the biggest of the year.

What was improbable was the fact that the lineup used in the deciding run was Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Devin Ebanks, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. This group played the entire fourth quarter and both overtimes. The most disappointing part of the game was Metta World Peace’, scratch that, Ron Artest’s ill advised ‘elbow heard’ around the world overshadowing a great Lakers win.

The elbow was BAD and never should have happened. The elbow overshadowed and probable erased all the solid work Ron Artest has done on and off the court to improve his image.

Ron Artest absence in concert with Matt Barnes moderately sprained ankle leaves the Lakers short at the small forward position causing L.A. to call Christian Eyenga up from the L.A. Defenders of the D-League. The L.A. Defenders made it to the NBADL Finals facing the Austin Toros. The NBADL Finals start tonight at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, CA. The L.A. Defenders are two wins away from being champions.

The Lakers have clinched the Pacific Division title. Tonight’s contest is the last game of the regular season, the second year in a row that the Lakers have ended their season in Sacramento. This is also the second year in a row that the Sacramento Kings future in that city is in doubt.

The Lakers and Kings have split the current season series (1-1), after L.A. took last year’s season series (3-1) and swept the 2009-2010 season series (4-0). The Lakers lead the all-time series 191-88 (83-32 in Sacramento), this is important because this could be the last match between these teams in the California state capitol.

The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games in Sacramento. Kobe Bryant has said repeatedly that he is not concerned with winning the NBA scoring title; however, he needs 38 points to lead the league in scoring in his 16th year.

In 56 career games (including 48 starts), Kobe Bryant is averaging 26.9 points per game against the Kings. In the two previous games, against the Kings, Bryant is averaging 33.5 points. Kobe Bryant dropping 40 on the Kings and winning the NBA scoring title by the end of the night normally would be a safe bet.

However, Head Coach Mike Brown is going to provide rest for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Tonight’s game plan will be simple do a solid job against the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, control the boards, get back in transition and rotate out to open shooters. The reserves will receive what every player wants minutes and opportunities.

Lakers: R. Sessions, S. Blake, C. Eyenga, J. Hill, J. McRoberts
Kings:
I. Thomas, T. Evans, T. Outlaw, J. Thompson, D. Cousins  

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (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:

  • Devin Ebanks (Middle & Ring Finger Contusions, Left Hand) Probable
  • Ramon Sessions (Sprained Left Shoulder, AC Joint) Probable
  • Matt Barnes (Sprained Right Ankle) Out
  • Metta World Peace (7-Game Suspension) Out

      Kings:

  • Marcus Thornton (Left Quad Contusion) Day-to-Day
  • John Salmons (Sore Right Hip) Out
  • Hassan Whiteside ( Sprained Right Ankle) Out