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DeMarcus Cousins

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Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Villegas, Getty Images

April 2, 2014 — 7:00 PM (PST)
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

After a tough loss vs. the Trail Blazers, the Lakers (25-49) make a very quick trip to the state capital to face off vs. Sacramento Kings (26-48).

In last night’s loss, F Nick Young came off the bench red hot, shooting 8-8 from the field to start, ending up scoring a season-high 40 points when the game was all set and done. Despite Young’s contribution, the Lakers lacked the defensive intensity necessary to hold off the Trail Blazers.

Tonight, Young and the rest of the Lakers will have to play with much better effort on the defensive end to have a chance of winning tonight. Fortunately, the Kings do not share the ball well, averaging only 18.9 APG as a team, which is the worst in the NBA.

PG Steve Nash will likely not play tonight. Despite playing very well, scoring 10 points and dishing out 10 assists while playing limited minutes, Nash injured his ankle and reaggravated his back injury that he has been fighting for a long period of time.

Kings’ C DeMarcus Cousins comes into tonight’s game averaging a career high in points and rebounds, averaging a double-double 22.3 PPG and 11.7 RPG. Many consider Cousins to possess one of the best low-post games in the NBA. Now that he has the individual skills to become an all-star, Cousins now has to become a vocal team leader and help create a team chemistry necessary to lead the Kings back into the playoffs moving forward.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall  Isaiah Thomas [Advantage: Kings]

SG - Jodie Meeks / Ben McLemore [Advantage: Lakers]

SF - Kent Bazemore Rudy Gay [Advantage: Kings]

PF - Jordan Hill / Jason Thompson [Advantage: Even]

C - Chris Kaman DeMarcus Cousins  [Advantage: Kings]

Notable Bench Players

Kings: PG Ray McCallumReggie EvansDerrick Williams

Lakers: PG Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, F Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Kings: Out-G Jason Terry, Out-F Carl Landry, GTD-PG Isaiah Thomas

Lakers: Out-C Pau Gasol, GTD-C Chris Kaman, Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Doubtful-PG Steve Nash, GTD-G Xavier Henry

Bottom Line

Despite playing for the 2nd night in a row, the Lakers should stay competitive vs. Kings. Theoretically, many Lakers fans might possess uncertainty on whether or not they want the Lakers to win tonight. the Kings currently are 1 game ahead of the Lakers, which means the Lakers will have a higher possibility of winning the lottery if season ended today. Regardless, the Kings are still our rivals stemming from the early 2000′s era and any victory vs. Kings will be pleasant.

If the Lakers can cut off the passing lanes on the defensive end and play with a lot of energy, they should come away with a victory tonight.

Prediction

Lakers: 105-97

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Jordan Farmar
Image: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

February 28, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers will face off vs. inter-state rivals Sacramento Kings in a battle of Western Conference bottom dwellers who destine themselves for a lottery pick in this upcoming NBA Draft.

Currently suffering a 3-game losing streak, the Lakers seek to get back on a winning track and end another dismal month on a positive note by playing with high energy tonight. The Lakers could not quite finish their comeback vs. Grizzlies after falling behind by 19 in the first half.

Along with Gasol, who I will mention later, SG Jodie Meeks continues to have a career year this season, scoring 19 points while shooting 7-10 from the field vs. Grizzlies. Meeks has scored 14.4 PPG this season while shooting a very high 39.4 % from behind the 3-point line.

The Kings will be without their leader C DeMarcus Cousins tonight to serve a one-game suspension for his actions vs. Rockets. Therefore, the Kings will be led by SF Rudy Gay, an all around player who averages 20.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG. Lakers‘ F Wesley Johnson will need to lock him up tonight in order to come away with a victory tonight.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall  Isaiah Thomas [Advantage: Kings]

SG - Jodie Meeks / Ben McLemore [Advantage: Lakers]

SF - Kent Bazemore Rudy Gay [Advantage: Kings]

PF - Wesley Johnson / Jason Thompson [Advantage: Even]

C - Pau Gasol Aaron Gray  [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Kings: PG Ray McCallumReggie EvansDerrick Williams

Lakers: PG Jordan FarmarChris Kaman, Jordan Hill, G Marshon Brooks

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Kings: Out-C DeMarcus Cousins, Out-G Jason Terry

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-F/G Nick Young, Out-G Xavier Henry

Keys for Lakers Success

Feed the Bigs: Kings C Demarcus Cousins will miss tonight’s game, leaving a gaping hole in the post for the Kings that the Lakers must take full advantage of. C Pau Gasol had a successful 2nd half vs. Grizzlies by scoring 12 points while dishing out 3 assists after teammate PG Jordan Farmar insisted the team ditch the small-ball philosophy and run the entire offense through Gasol. Although the Lakers fell short vs. Grizzlies, the Gasol led Lakers out scored the Grizzlies by 15 in the 2nd half. Even if Gasol is not out on the floor, The Lakers should run their offense around C Chris Kaman, who people can argue as one of the most offensively skilled center in the NBA.

Bottom Line

Tonight, the Lakers should and will get a victory vs. the Kings. That is if they play to their strength, which means to play through Gasol and Kaman. Currently, the Lakers would do anything to win a game, whether it’s within their usual offensive system or not. Regardless of the rankings these two teams currently sit themselves in, a win vs. Kings always brings peace to the city of Los Angeles.

Prediction

Lakers: 110-103

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DeMarcus Cousins shoots over Pau Gasol.
Source: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

December 6, 2013 — 7:00 PM (PST)
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
TV: Time Warner Cable SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (9-9) travel to the California state capital for a very quick trip to play their inter-state rival Sacramento Kings (4-12), who currently have a 5 game losing streak coming into tonight’s game. The Kings’ losing streak clearly does not represent how they have been playing recently; they have lost their last 3 games by a combined 10 points versus 3 very tough Western Conference teams: Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Kings are led by C DeMarcus Cousins, one of very few talented big man in the NBA.  Cousins, who returns to the floor after missing last game versus Thunder due to a sprained ankle, comes into tonight’s game averaging a career high in points and rebounds, averaging a double-double 21.7 PPG and 9.6 RPG.

The Lakers, who should play their last game without superstar G Kobe Bryant, come into Sleep Train Arena after not playing a game since Sunday. The Lakers lost their last game vs. Portland Trailblazers, who held off a miraculous comeback attempt against the Lakers bench, led by G Xavier Henry, who played point guard and scored 27 points.

Key Matchup: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Pau Gasol

This game will once again come down to the battle of the bigs, notably between Cousins and Lakers C Pau Gasol. In their last matchup, Cousins scored 17 points and had 8 rebounds, while Gasol and the Lakers had the upper hand, scoring 20 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Cousins possesses a combination of strength and skills necessary to score versus any big man who guard him. Cousins looks to become a more mature player to turn around the Kings franchise and eventually lead the Kings to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Gasol, on the other hand, showcases a variety of post moves that comes at a premium in today’s NBA. Gasol, who has struggled with conditioning and leg issues throughout this season, looks to return to bounce back from a terrible game after the Lakers have not played since Sunday’s game.

Both players have been battling sprained ankles. Cousins, as previously mentioned, missed Tuesday night’s game vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, while Gasol struggled mightly playing through a sprained ankle vs. Trailblazers, scoring only 6 points on 3-15 shooting.

If Gasol can out duel Cousins and return to a performance level he showed the last 8 games before Sunday’s game, the Lakers will have a great chance defeat the Kings, despite this game being a “trap-game” especially right before Kobe’s season debut.

X-Factors

Kings: F Derrick Williams- who joined the Kings last week after the Kings acquired him from Minnessota Timberwolves for F Luc Richard M’Bah Moute, seems to have found a new home in his first 3 games for the Kings. After falling out of the Timberwolves rotation, Williams has started his first 3 games for the Kings, averaging 9.7 PPG and 4.3 RPG. Although Williams has shown flashes of great skills and talent, he has been very inconsistent so far in his career, which caused him to get traded from Minnesota.

Lakers: G Xavier Henry - who filled in at the Point Guard position to replace PG Jordan Farmar, surprised everyone with how well he handled the ball. As previously noted, Henry scored 27 points on 9-12 shooting. Without a healthy PG for tonight’s game, Henry looks to fill a major hole again and handle the ball the majority of the time. Although Henry has performed will this year due to his aggressive nature to drive to the basket and playing solid defense, Henry’s lack of handling the ball too well with his off-hand and his ability to pass the ball while driving to the basket might be a concern. Hopefully, Henry can hide his deficiencies again and perform as well tonight as he played vs. Trailblazers.

Projected Starters

PG - Greivis Vasquez / Steve Blake
SG - Ben McLemore / Jodie Meeks
SF - Derrick Williams / Wesley Johnson
PF - Jason Thompson / Robert Sacre
C - DeMarcus Cousins / Pau Gasol

Bottom Line

Although the Lakers easily defeated the Kings in their last game, 100-86, without a healthy point guard available for tonight’s game vs. Kings, this matchup in Sacramento will not be as easy. Most importantly, the Lakers do not have a healthy point guard. Steve Nash is still recovering from nerve issues and PG Jordan Farmar is now out for 4 weeks after tearing his left hamstring. Starting PG Steve Blake, who will play tonight, is currently battling a hyperextended right elbow, which will limit his shooting abilities tonight. Hopefully Henry can hold his own again vs. Kings and run the Lakers offense very well without committing any turnovers.

Prediction

Kings: 96-88

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Former number two overall NBA draft pick Michael Beasley worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers for a second time Wednesday.