With both the Kings and Lakers coming into Monday night’s game on the losing side in five of their last six games, the proverbial wheels are beginning their annual falling from the wagon in what each franchise had hoped would be bounce back seasons. While the Lakers woes have been primarily due to injuries to key players, the Kings have been pretty lucky in that department and are losing due to, well, lack of execution and just not being a very good basketball team. So both teams are frustrated, have something to prove and in fear of backsliding into what could be yet another lost season? This could get real interesting, real quick. Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Monday, December 12th; 7:30pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140
For Your Consideration
Battle of the Benches: While it’s a complete unknown on a given night just how Coach Joerger will stagger his bench, or who his game of Russian Roulette might claim as his next DNP, it’s seems at least that the bench is coming in and performing this year in a way that they hadn’t been in a long time. More than once the season has their been times where a game that was quickly getting out of hand was wrangled back in by the group that Jerry Reynolds affectionately calls “The Bench-a-teers”. This season Sacramento’s bench comes in as the tenth best in shooting percentage, ninth in assists, yet only 18th in scoring (33.1 ppg) while being given the eighth most minutes in the NBA. On the defensive side of the ball, the Kings bench is a top five team in the league in steals per game while also having the 11th highest defensive efficiency rating. The Lakers on the other hand, have a bench That score nearly half of all their total points, leading the league in scoring at over 52 points per game. They’re also second in rebounding, first in assists, first in steals, second in offensive and defensive rebounding, sixth in field goal percentage and first in offensive efficiency. So while the Kings bench has improved, tonight’s game against the Lakers will feature a test of the best bench in the league, a pseudo-starting unit that goes 10 players deep, because on top of everything the Lakers bench plays basically half the game. There is no let up from them and if the Kings decide that tonight is yet another instance where they can attempt a comeback against the opponents bench, they will absolutely lose this game.
Special shout-out here to Lou Williams who leads the Lakers in scoring and the entire league in scoring off the bench at 19 points a game. Lou recently broke a record for bench scoring over a four game stretch where he scored 40, 24, 38 and 34 points while shooting 53% from the field. Sunday night against the Knicks Lou managed to score only 24 points on 6-13 shooting. My thoughts and prayers are to his scoring streak being tainted, and in lieu of monetary donations please send all boo-quets to the D’Angelo Russell Center for Icy Vein Research.
Kings Focus: The Kings tonight are going to have to do a good job of defending the paint tonight where the Lakers are seventh in the league in scoring. In fact, the Lakers attempt the second most two pointers in the league, and hit 49% from inside the arc, so closing out and keeping Lakers bodies out of the middle will be imperative. Speaking of in the middle, Los Angeles is also a top-3 team in rebounding, being third in offensive and seventh in defensive rebounding, so controlling the boards and not allowing a barrage of second chance opportunities will also go a long ways towards a Kings victory. Finally, the Kings will have to take advantage of the Lakers being last in the league in turnovers. The Kings have done a fantastic job at forcing turnovers of late and Monday night would be a great time to continue that streak of fortune. During the Jazz game on Saturday, every Jazz player but one committed a turnover, with only two more committing less than two turnovers. Forcing 24 turnovers against a team that averages half of that was a great way of putting yourself in a position to win the game, and while scoring 8 points in the fourth really isn’t good for getting W’s, the Kings pressure shouldn’t drop against a team that averages over 16 turnovers a game. Force them into silly passes, or into rushing through sets and a team that young will do the work for you.
Prediction: Lou Williams won’t like being mocked by a lousy game preview writer from Sacramento, so he’ll definitely end up scoring 35 tonight. D’Angelo Russell is going to see what Sweet Lou is cooking up, and do all in his power to ruin that, going 1-9 in the first half, with his one make being at the halftime buzzer, so he can raise aware of his rare but debilitating Icy Vein Syndrome. Julius Randle and DeMarcus Cousins have beef that’s been cooking since the last time they went head to head, so I expect someone to try to serve that beef to the other in a meeting at the rim tonight. Kings will come out pissy, but will come out on top.
Kings: 113, Lakers: 105