STARTING LINEUPS & INJURIES
The Kings will start Tyreke Evans, Luther Head, Donte Greene and Jason Thompson. Samuel Dalembert is questionable; if he doesn't play, I would expect DeMarcus Cousins, who had 20/8 against Indiana Tuesday, to start. Carl Landry will be the first big man off the bench, and Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi should receive backcourt minutes.
The Lakers have had a consistent starting five all season: Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant in the backcourt, Ron Artest at small forward, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol up front. Gasol is, however, questionable for tonight's game. Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake play quite a bit off the bench; Derrick Caracter typically gets a few minutes a game. Andrew Bynum remains out.
The Lakers beat the Kings 112-100 on ESPN on Nov. 4. Kobe had a pretty danged masterful triple-double. Dalembert and Thompson played well on defense against the L.A. bigs, and Landry's offense was good, but Sacramento just couldn't get enough going to keep up.
Check out HighTops' scouting report. Mine follows.
The Lakers are reeling, having lost four straight games, including two to teams with losing records. Those teams, however, were the Grizzlies and Rockets, teams far better than the Kings. They were also both road losses for the Lakers. L.A. is at home tonight, where the team is 8-2.
In other words, there is no Lakers crisis a win over the Kings won't solve. But if the Lakers lose to the Kings? That's a crisis.
Where the Lakers aren't as good as they should be is on the defensive glass (curse of Pau at center) and in creating turnovers (curse of Fisher). The Lakers are so good in the halfcourt that they certainly don't need to rely on transition buckets. But the lack of turnover creation gives opponents more shots at the rim than usual, and the Lakers' shot defense is just good, not great. The Lakers are fairly fallible inside of 10 feet.
On the other end? If Gasol is out, that's a huge help for the Kings, because it means the offense primarily falls on Kobe and Artest, either of whom can shoot their team right out of a lead. Head actually defended Bryant really well in the first match-up, but I wouldn't expect Lu's defense to hold the former MVP all game long.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Kobe vs. Head. Again, with Gasol either ailing or out, Kobe's offense will be without filter. It's up to Head primarily to make it suck.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Cousins drifted away from the lane in the first Lakers game, and simply can't do that tonight. PUNISH THEM BIG BOOGIE.
Today's entry is posted on the Sactown Royalty Facebook page.
7:30 PM start. Comcast SportsNet and KHTK 1140 AM have the coverage; we apologize to and sacrifice goats on behalf of Dish Network subscribers. Game threads at 7:30 and 9. Go Kings.