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Kings Look to Spook Clippers in Opening Night Rematch

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost, Happy Halloween! In honor All Hallows’ Eve, I feel obligated to share the footage of that time Manu Ginobili murdered an invading bat exactly seven Halloween’s ago. It’s as unbelievable now as it was then.

The Sacramento Kings find themselves in Los Angeles tonight with a unique opportunity to avenge their opening night loss to the Clippers. Tipoff is at 7:30 PST, and the Kings will get a little national exposure tonight, as NBA TV will be carrying the game, as well as CSN-CA and KHTK Sports 1140. Considering DeMarcus Cousins' comments after the home opener, the Kings' new lineup, and how well the team played against the Lakers, this has a big game feel to it. It'll be an excellent test, if nothing else.

The Kings will roll into the Staples Center on the second night of a back-to-back set, but thanks to the thrashing they gave the Lakers last night, everyone should be relatively rested heading into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins hates the Clippers

It would be pretty safe to assume Cousins is going to have 18,000 LA residents booing him for 48 minutes after his postgame comments from opening night. I’m not as worried about that as I am Cousins’ efficiency. His base numbers from game one against the Clippers looked solid (hard to complain about 32 points, 13 rebounds) but he wasn’t as sharp as he needs to be if the Kings are going to take down the Clippers at home. He had eight turnovers and six fouls in their first meeting. He can do better, and I expect that tonight.

Willie Cauley-Stein is starting, right?

We don’t know this yet, but much like Cousins getting the ever-loving boogie boo’d out of him tonight, this feels like a safe assumption. Cauley-Stein was awesome against the Lakers last night, and considering how Blake Griffin lit up the Kings with a barrage of jump shots in the opener, I’d like to see Willie get an opportunity to slow Griffin down. This matchup is the one to watch. The Kings intentionally played off Griffin on Wednesday, daring him to shoot, and boy did he shoot. It was a sound strategy that the Kings failed to adjust after Griffin proved he could make that shot on a consistent basis, and by the time the Kings found some rhythm in the second half, it was too late. It’ll be interesting to see how the Kings play Griffin tonight considering how clear their approach was three days ago. Whatcha got, Roland Beech?

Energy!

I don’t know if it was nerves, anxiety, pressure, or something else entirely, but the Kings came out extremely flat against the Clippers in their first meeting. The starting unit looked sluggish and aimless, the second unit looked better, but the first half was largely a disaster. The Kings actually outscored the Clippers 58-55 in the second half, but if you’re going to beat this team, you’ve got to play a complete game. The Kings came out with infinitely more energy last night against the Lakers, and while the Clippers are at least ten times the team the Lakers are, energy level shouldn’t be something that changes from opponent to opponent. This feels like a big game considering the near-endless storylines heading into it, and the Kings shouldn't have any issues getting up for it.

Prediction

This is tough. The Clippers are really, really good. I don't know that they won't be the second or third best team in the entire NBA this season considering all the improvements they made to an already solid roster this summer. With that being said, I'm predicting this under the premise that the Kings are a good basketball team. A good basketball team takes what they learned in a previous outing, makes the appropriate adjustments, and competes at a higher level the next time out. That is particularly true when you play the same team in such a short period of time. The back-to-back, late-night travel is a factor, but the Kings have more to play for tonight. Kings take it 105, 102.

For an opposing viewpoint, you can check out our SB Nation brethren, Clips Nation, right here.