Battle for the floor: Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers Preview

Stephen Dunn

The Kings! The Lakers! Tonight on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet, these two titans of tanking tango for the right to be the worst team in the Western Conference!

Showtime: 7:30 pm PT

Plot: As the season gets down to around it's final 20 games, it's becoming harder and harder to find a narrative. After all, what's particularly interesting about two teams with a combined 39 wins on the last day of February.

Nothing, really. Except of course, the outside possibility of a Lakers win.

LA tangles with their near co-tenant in the Western Conference's basement tonight, as the Kings descend upon the STAPLES Center for the Battle of the Bottom. Sacramento is curiously bad this season, which is only strange in that their aggregation of talent is far superior to that of the Lakers and several other teams they're shuffling up against. With talented (but troubled) players like DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas, Jason Thompson and Ben McLemore, this looks like a squad that should be much, much better than they are.

But alas, it seems that it's a different year, same dysfunctional Kings. Sacramento only stands at one more win than the hapless, banged-up Lakers, a truly disgraceful distinction considering that fans were hoping for more with new ownership in town. However, Sacto has played better this past month, nearly breaking even at 5-6 and defeating decent squads like the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets (away!) and Toronto Raptors. They'll look to hit .500 against a reeling Lakers team tonight.

LA hasn't looked great lately to say the least, losing three in a row and 7 of their last 8. Small cracks are beginning to show in a surprisingly seamless locker room facade, with Pau Gasol openly questioning his teammates' effort and discipline in the past few days. Still, the Lakers are still the max-effort, minimum reward team that they've been the entire season, showing great efforts at Indiana and Memphis in a tough back-to-back set this week. Pau Gasol has continued his solid play, while the rest of the squad tries to figure out just how to utilize new players like Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. Nick Young, Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry and Steve Nash will of course sit out tonight, while Chris Kaman is questionable with a bad back that's dogged him at times all season long. This will leave the Lakers short-handed (surprise!) once again with just ten players. The good news is, that their opponents will be as well.

DeMarcus Cousins will sit out with a one game suspension he earned punching Rockets guard Patrick Beverley in their game on Tuesday. Boogie is the team's leader in several offensive and defensive categories and a perpetual handful for the Lakers. Without him, he'll leave a gaping hole up the middle that could give LA a slight advantage, especially considering their penchant for giving away rebounds like free tacos (well, in some years). Aaron Gray, Reggie Evans and Thompson should see some time in his stead, each of whom is gigantic drop off offensively from Cousins' scoring repertoire.

But overall, let's call this game what it is: a contest between two terrible teams who are far more focused on 2014-2015 than today. There will be a winner of the Battle for the Floor tonight, but in the end, there's no real victory to be had here.

--MAMBINO

--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino

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