Lakers hope to gain ground as they play Sacramento Kings

The Lakers have yet to beat the Kings this season.

LOS ANGELES — As I said before, it doesn’t stop for the Lakers.

They drew the champion Nuggets on Saturday and then the Thunder on Monday. On Wednesday night, they get their old friends, the Sacramento Kings, as they continue their long home stand.

Last season, the Kings surprised everyone by winning 48 games. This year, they’re not sneaking up on anyone but they’re still a rather good team. They are 34-26 in the crowded middle tier of the West. They’re currently in the 7th spot. So with the Lakers being 34-29, they’re only 1.5 games behind the Kings.

Well, it’s really three. The Lakers are 0-2 against the Kings this season. They lost a tough overtime game on Oct. 29th. And then they were embarrassed at home on Nov. 15 (that happened to be my birthday so that was an excellent present).

Things that stood out on both games? The Lakers got off to… slow starts. I suppose that’s putting it nicely. But on the first game, Sacramento scored 41 in the first period. Then in the second game, the Kings put in 38 points in the first. So we know the Lakers have to start their game much better. The Kings just immediately bombard and catch the Lakers off guard.

What stood out to me also in the second game was the number of turnovers. And we know that was really the only blemish in the Lakers’ otherwise excellent win against OKC last Monday. The Lakers turned the ball over 23 times in that Nov. 15 game against Sacramento (Lakers had 20 against the Thunder). So they cannot be careless with the rock, especially against an offensive machine like Sacramento.

As for the Kings players, we know De’Aaron Fox will hurt the Lakers (32.5 points per in those two games). Domantas Sabonis is damn near an automatic double-double (20.5 points, 15.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists per against the Lakers this season). And they gotta watch out for those three-point shooters like Keegan Murray and Kevin Huerter. Huerter made a clutch three in OT in the first game and then went off for 28 points two weeks later against the Lakers.

As for the Lakers themselves? There were rotation questions in that loss in the first game and with how things occurred against the Nuggets, it’s right to be afraid of what head coach Darvin Ham will do. In that home loss two weeks later, Anthony Davis had one of those disappearing acts. He scored 9 points, which was really his worst scoring output this season (he also had 9 against the Heat the week before but he left the game in the second quarter due to an injury). So they should probably feed him early and often. If anything, he should be the catalyst to a good start for the Lakers.

Like the Lakers, the Kings have been very up and down this season. They’re not exactly hot as they’ve lost three of their last four games. But they also might be dangerous as they’re going to be desperate for a win.

Even if the Lakers are 10-4 in their last 14, they should also have that same desperation. They’re 9th in the Western Conference and I’m sure they want to be in the Top 6 once April comes around. After that loss to Denver, that win against Oklahoma City was a great first step towards that. Let’s see if they can take the next step by getting off to a good start and playing that same intense defense we saw on Monday.