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Kings vs. Lakers Preview: Without Boogie, another winnable game up in the air

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was not so long ago that Kings-Lakers meant something, but in recent years the matchup has been a shadow of its former self.  Even without DeMarcus Cousins, this should be a win for Sacramento, but as we've learned, nothing comes easy for Sacramento without Boogie.  The Kings even managed to lose three of four games to the Lakers last year, some of those games with Boogie.  Tonight's action tips off at 7:30 pm  on Comcast SportsNet California, NBA TV and on KHTK 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1.  The only team the Lakers can say they're better than in the Western Conference is Minnesota.  Historically, the Lakers are almost never bad but for the second year in a row it looks like they'll be in the top half of the lottery.  L.A. made a coaching change in the offseason to Byron Scott as well as a bunch of personnel changes, which resulted in less shooting and much worse defense.  The Lakers were 2nd in the league in 3PM last year and so far this year have dropped to 24th.  Last year they were just 28th overall in defensive rating but this year they're 30th and it's not even close as they're allowing 115.2 points per 100 possessions.  That's on pace to be the worst defensive mark in NBA history, passing the 114.7 mark set by the 1990-91 20 win Nuggets, 1992-93 11 win Mavericks and the 2008-09 17 win ... Sacramento Kings.

2. Rookie Nik Stauskas had a bit of a breakout game yesterday against the Utah Jazz, scoring 15 points on 12 shots to go with 8 rebounds.  This game against the Lakers will be a good test to see whether or not he can keep it going, as a second good game in a row would do wonders for his confidence.  We saw earlier this season that Ben got going after one big game, and if the same can happen for Nik, that would be a big boon to our bench production.

3. Omri Casspi got his first DNP-CD of the season yesterday against the Jazz as Derrick Williams got the call over him.  Williams has had an impressive three game stretch (not counting the 3 seconds he played against Indiana), averaging 13 points on 62.9% from the field in just about 15 minutes of action.  Casspi is too good to be completely out of the rotation, but right now Williams has the upper hand and will likely continue to have it if he keeps playing well.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Kobe Bryant vs. Ben McLemore

Kobe Bryant is not the player he used to be and while he's still leading the league in scoring at 25.2 points per game, he's doing it while shooting just 38.9% from the field and 27.3% from three.  Still, this is Kobe Bryant, a guy who can fill it up at any time and is the primary focus of a Lakers team that has fallen on hard times.  McLemore has had a very good sophomore season, but Bryant will make him work hard on both ends.  If the Kings can keep Kobe in check, they'll have a very good chance of winning this game.

PREGAME LIMERICK

The stars are aligning in L.A.
for another big game from Rudy Gay.
Lakers are bad,
Kobe's mad,
and their defense is more like "olé"!

PREDICTION

Kings 104, Lakers 96 as the Kings are buoyed by all the celebrities that have come out to see them rather than the Lakers.