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Lakers

Lakers look to bounce back from big loss, visit Sacramento Kings

Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins

Clippers forward Blake Griffin is fouled by Kings center DeMarcus Cousins during a game on Nov. 23, 2013.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

On Thursday, Kobe Bryant (shoulder) and D’Angelo Russell (sore throat) are expected to return to action when the Lakers (8-28) visit the Sacramento Kings (14-21). It will be Bryant’s final appearance in Sacramento.

The Lakers are coming off a blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors, but previously won their last three games.

Sacramento hasn’t lived up to its own expectations, but is just 1.5 games behind the eighth-place Utah Jazz (15-19) in the Western Conference.

The Kings are much better at home (9-9), than they are on the road (5-12).  The Lakers are 4-18 away from Staples Center.

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Sacramento is dealing with a long list of injuries, although most are game-time decisions.  Eric Moreland (foot) is out, but Rajon Rondo (back), Willie Cauley-Stein (finger), Omri Casspi (back) and Duje Dukan (leg) may all play.

Key matchup

The Kings typically start DeMarcus Cousins at center, although the team has also opened games with the Kentucky big man at power forward.

In the Kings’ double-overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Cousins scored 35 points with 17 rebounds, six steals, four assists and 10 turnovers.

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On the season, Cousins is averaging 25.1 points and 10.9 rebounds, but he’s shooting only 43.1% from the field.

The Lakers will likely match up with center Roy Hibbert, although others including Julius Randle, Brandon Bass and rookie Larry Nance Jr. may get time against Cousins.

X-factor

The Kings also have another big-time scorer in Rudy Gay, who is averaging 17.8 points a game.

Rondo, should he play, is dishing 11.6 points a game.  Darren Collison is another steady contributor at 13.7 points and 4.7 assists a night.

Before the Lakers were destroyed by the Warriors, the team was getting steady production from a number of sources, including Lou Williams, Nance and Jordan Clarkson.

Outlook

The Kings have a lot of talent but struggle to win games.  If they can put enough healthy bodies on the floor, they should be able to hold off the Lakers.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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