Kings vs. Lakers preview: We don't miss you, Kobe Bryant

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe is still out, thank goodness. The Kings, in theory, should be able to handle the remainder. In theory.

There's nothing easy for the Sacramento Kings. When your talent is shallow is inconsistent, the margin of error is so slim that you can lose literally any given game. The Kings have played pretty inspired basketball over the past week, though, and that makes losses easier to swallow. Losing to the Clippers by a point in L.A. is nothing to get worried about. But losing to the Lakers without Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash would be.

The Lakers have been pretty good at home, but their offense is horrible (No. 23) and I have to believe their defensive numbers are a bit flukey (No. 14 with no notable defenders in the rotation). Pau Gasol is the leading scorer at a whopping 13.8 points per game. Nick Young is right behind him (13.6) and has actually been pretty good. Jordan Hill is scoring really well per-minute (17 per 36 minutes), but basically no one on the club draws fouls.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Pau Gasol.

Each team's best healthy player. Cousins respects Pau a lot, too, and in the past said he modeled his game after Gasol, which is, to be honest, a little scary given the players' respective physical profiles. If nothing else, the two can discuss their intense dislike of Chris Paul.

3 THINGS I WILL WATCH IN A SPECIFIC SENSE

1. Patrick Patterson off the ball. He got some good looks by moving into space instead of camping in his preferred perimeter spots. That got Pat-Pat on the board and relieved some pressure from Cousins, who was doubled a lot. Cousins is a good if risk-taking passer. He had seven assists on Saturday, a few of them to Pat-Pat.

2. The shooting guard rotation. Instead of playing the two point guards together or Marcus Thornton, Michael Malone used Johnny Salmons at shooting guard on Saturday as Jimmer Fredette had matchup problems. Akis talked about it in his long recap, but I could totally see Salmons sliding in there more frequently. Malone clearly likes him, and right now Luc Mbah a Moute and Travis Outlaw are simply better small forwards.

3. Isaiah Thomas in the first half. The splits between him in the first half and second half are getting ridiculous. Seven points on 44 percent shooting in the first half, 12 points on 48 percent shooting in the second half. He's been AWESOME this season. I wish he had better starts, though.

PREGAME HAIKU

Oh, hello Lakers.
I didn't recognize you
wearing all that suck.

PREDICTION

Kings 110, Lakers 100.

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