Preview: Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings

The Lakers (6-7) can climb back to .500 with a win Sunday night at Staples Center over the Sacramento Kings (4-8).

The Kings are coming of a close loss Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

The return of Kobe Bryant will have to wait. The Lakers' All-Star guard still isn't ready to return from his Achilles' tendon injury, and the Lakers will also be without Steve Nash and Chris Kaman, both with back issues.

Key matchup

Center DeMarcus Cousins is doing his best to carry the Kings, averaging 21.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks a game.

Cousins is big and athletic, a difficult matchup for almost any team.

Jordan Hill may be the best defensive option for the Lakers on Cousins. Hill has been a force on the boards for the Lakers, giving the team a boost since joining the starting lineup over the last five games.

Cousins is more skilled than Hill, but Hill has helped the Lakers win three of their last five games.


Kings point guard  Isaiah Thomas is having a tremendous season, averaging 18.7 points and 4.7 assists a game.

He's a threat off the dribble as a scorer and playmaker, while shooting 42.9% from three-point range.

When Thomas gets going offensively, he can be hard to stop.

The Lakers need a strong defensive effort from both Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.

Against the Golden State Warriors on Friday, Blake and Farmar combined for 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting and had 13 assists.


The Kings always seem to play the Lakers well.

While Sacramento doesn't have a winning record and isn't likely to make the playoffs this season, they are a threat to steal one at Staples Center on Sunday.

If the Lakers can slow down Cousins and Thomas, they'll have a chance to win their third game in a row.

Given that the team has had a difficult schedule to start the season, all without Kobe Bryant (and most of it without Steve Nash), a .500 record through 14 games would be an accomplishment.

The Kings won't make that easy — but it's a game the Lakers should win.


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Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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