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Lakers vs. Kings preview: Taking on the Northern California 'Cousins'

The Lakers are about to hit a three-game road trip but have a chance to win their third straight game Sunday night.

Ethan Miller

Showtime: 6:30 p.m. PT

Plot: The Los Angeles Lakers play their final home game for the month of November and are sitting at 6-7 on the season. The continue to flirt with that sparkly .500 record, something we learned a whole lot about last season. The Sacramento Kings got to hang out in Los Angeles overnight after losing to the Clippers early Saturday. We've got ourselves some basketball tonight.

Don't expect Kobe Bryant to make his first appearance of the season, though. It was mentioned after the win Friday, but it's been re-affirmed today that Kobe is out. He worked out on his own this morning, however, via reports from Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Chris Kaman is also doubtful as he deals with lower back soreness, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell. Pinch me, I'm shocked Kaman is missing time. This limits the Lakers' options in defending DeMarcus Cousins, however, and creates a challenge for Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill to deal with.

Cousins is averaging a career-high 21.7 points per game in scoring and isn't far off the highest field goal percentage of his career as well. He just dropped 23 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists against the Clippers yesterday. It's never really been a question of ability with Cousins, though, which is why he fetched that max contract extension this summer. Stuff like this, though, is what it always comes back to with him:


Don't mind me, I'm just laughing while shaking my head. Hilarious in so many ways, that Cousins character.

The Lakers' defense continues to outmatch their offense, but the O is kinda-sorta starting to come around. It now ranks 23rd in the NBA, averaging 101.2 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference. Dropping 114 points on the Pistons and 102 on the Warriors certainly didn't hurt.

The Kings are bad on defense, which gives a glimmer of hope that number can continue improving. Sacramento is allowing 107 points per 100 possessions, per Basketball-Reference, and Cousins is a guy the Lakers can pick on in the pick-and-roll and as a weak side defender. Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas aren't exactly world stoppers on defense either, making it even more sensible for the Lakers to use screens and backdoor cuts to attack the Kings' defense.

The flip side is: Oh god Isaiah Thomas has to be defended. He's the prototypical Laker killer: An undersized point guard who is quick and aggressively looks for his shot. He's the Kings' second-leading scorer, playing off the bench and dropping 18.7 points per game. Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar will have their hands full, and Pau Gasol is going to have to do his best to balance defending Cousins and protecting the rim from dribble penetration.

Making matters harder for the Lakers' front court, Patrick Patterson is a stretch power forward who will have one of the Lakers' bigs anchored near the three-point line. Defending the Kings when Cousins is on the floor will be a challenge, no question. Their frontcourt depth is lacking, though, and the team will need to string together stops when Cousins is on the bench.

It won't be easy, but the Lakers have a chance to get up to a 7-7 record before their three-game road trip while also putting together their first three-game winning streak of the season. No blood on those Sunday whites, guys.

Check out Shaqtown Royalty for the latest on the Kings

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