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Kings vs. Lakers preview: No Kobe Bryant yet, but a good matchup

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The Lakers visit Sacramento Friday. Is revenge in store?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

The only recent bad loss the Kings have suffered came in Los Angeles against the Lakers. A day after pushing the Clippers to their limit, the Kings offense sputtered horribly and conceded a game to the dilapidated Lakers. Now, the Evil Empire visits Sacramento, still missing Kobe Bryant, who won't return until Sunday.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Pau Gasol vs. DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins will return after missing one game with a sprained ankle. Boogie was just okay in the last matchup, with 17 points on 6-14 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists and three turnovers. He wasn't really the problem, but he didn't do enough to really help the team at the same time. Gasol, on the other hand, dropped 20 on 8-16 shooting. So it was a pretty close battle. The rest of the Lakers did better than the rest of the Kings.

Hopefully the ankle isn't at all an issue for Cousins and he can do work on Pau and company.

3 THINGS TO WATCH

1. Can Ben McLemore break out of his slump? The rookie is shooting 33 percent of his last 10 games. He's getting plenty of open looks, but not hitting them. I'm of the opinion he'll eventually find his range and start hitting a good share of his shots, but to date it hasn't really happened.

2. Can Derrick Williams hit a three? It's tough to play small forward without a legitimate outside shots. It's possibly, but tough. Williams is 0-for-Sacramento from long-range. He's gotten a couple of good looks. Hitting a few against the Lakers will sure endear him to the crowd.

3. Will it snow? Come on, it's a whiteout at Sleep Train, it's colder than a Maloof's handshake outside and it's supposed to rain. Will it snow in Sacramento?!?!

START FOUR

You're playing, right? I picked a horrible lineup on Tuesday (including an injured Cousins, whoops!), dropping me solidly into the middle of the pack in the Sactown Royalty group. Remember: if you finish above me for the month of December, you'll be entered in a drawing for a Kings store gift card.

PREGAME HAIKU

Kobe too scurred to
come back in Sacramento?
Oh well. Hungry, man?

PREDICTION

Kings 112, Lakers 100.