Even when the Los Angeles Lakers had seemingly accepted the fact that they’d be playing yet another season with Russell Westbrook on their roster, no one could have anticipated how much more fun the Sacramento Kings would be having when compared to their neighbors down south.
As it currently stands, the Kings are the 6th seed in the Western Conference with a 16-13 record. Their start to the season has to have their fans beaming with joy, and yes, that is a cheesy pun I made in honor of their beam-lighting ceremony on top of the Golden 1 Center upon any Kings win.
One of those 16 wins was a 120-114, Nov. 11 victory against the Lakers in Crypto.com Arena. That loss dropped the Lakers to a 2-10 record at the time with the easiest part of their schedule thus far coming right after that, eventually resulting in the 11-7 record they’ve had since that game against the Kings.
Another important note on that November 11 game between these two teams is the fact that LeBron James was out. He will likely appear in this game, however — in what is now a familiar feeling for us Lakers fans — the injured superstar has changed for this contest as Anthony Davis will now be out.
A test for the Lakers’ defense
Because of that monumental absence (one that we still don’t know the exact length of), we may have a high-scoring affair in this one.
On the season, the Kings rank 6th in the NBA in offensive rating. That offensive firepower is fueled mostly by their 3-point shooting, specifically from players like Kevin Huerter (41.1%), rookie Keegan Murray (37.7%), and De’Aaron Fox (35.5%) who all average high percentages on 5.2 attempts per game or higher.
They also feature one of the most efficient big men in the NBA in Domantas Sabonis (62.7% field-goal percentage), who scratches-and-claws his way in the paint to help the Kings own the highest FG% on shot attempts within five feet of the basket.
Luckily for the Lakers, that sixth-ranked offensive rating is heavily padded by the Kings’ opening to the season, as they rank 18th in that category across their last 10 games.
Of course, we must return back to the elephant in the room. Any luck the Lakers may have with the timing of this matchup is easily dissipated when considering Anthony Davis’s absence.
Before the last two games without Davis, the Lakers had the 12th-ranked defensive rating in the NBA. In every team’s last two games — which for the Lakers includes a win vs. the Wizards and then a lopsided loss to the Suns the very next night — the team ranks 24th in defensive rating.
No matter if the Kings and their offense have been struggling as of late, they’re sure to get a boost internally and from their fans with LeBron James and the Lakers coming into town. It’ll be on The King as well, as his loyal subjects to try and maintain a level of defense they’ve yet to show they can do without AD.
If they don’t, the Lakers will likely be returning home with a 13-18 record.
Notes and Updates
- LeBron James sat out the second night of the team’s back-to-back on Monday in Phoenix, but he seems ready to return to the court as he’s listed “probable” on the injury report.
- However, the same can’t be said for Russell Westbrook (questionable - left foot soreness) or Austin Reaves (doubtful - right ankle sprain) who both missed the same game vs. the Suns. Reaves’ ankle injury really seems to be bothering him after he sustained it in the second half of Sunday’s win vs. the Wizards. Wednesday would be only the second game Reaves has missed all season.
- Westbrook was a late scratch for Monday’s game, but apparently the left foot soreness wasn’t solely a reason to sit out an unwinnable game that didn’t feature LeBron or AD.
- Anthony Davis is listed as out, with the injury report showing “right ankle soreness” as the reason. The Lakers haven’t officially disclosed what his right foot injury is or how long they expect him to be out, with reports indicating timelines ranging from a month to “indefinitely.”
- Juan Toscano-Anderson is listed as out (right ankle sprain). It will be the seventh consecutive game he’s missed. Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider (G-League play) will not be with the team.
- At the time of this publishing, the Sacramento Kings had not published their injury report.
The Lakers and Kings will tip off at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast on Spectrum SportsNet.