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Lakers

Preview: Struggling Lakers host inconsistent Sacramento Kings

Rajon Rondo, D’Angelo Russell

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, right, tries to pass after falling as Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo tries to block the pass.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The Lakers (9-34) draw the Sacramento Kings (17-23) on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

While the Lakers are 10 games out of a playoff berth, the Kings are in 10th place but just a half game behind the Utah Jazz (18-23); also even with the ninth-place Portland Trail Blazers (19-25).

Sacramento has won two in a row but only half of their last 10.  The Lakers have dropped three straight, but have generally improved as a team over the last month.

Larry Nance Jr. is not expected to play with a sore knee. The Kings are without Eric Moreland (foot) and Duje Dukan (leg).

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Key matchup

The Kings are led by forward/center DeMarcus Cousins, who is often a dominant force on the court, averaging 25.9 points and 11.1 rebounds a night.

Cousins shoots just 43.8% from the field, a low efficiency for a big man. He also averages more turnovers (3.4) than assists (2.7).

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While he’s far from perfect, Cousins is a lot to handle. The Lakers will counter with Roy Hibbert, Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Ryan Kelly and, if needed, Tarik Black, Metta World Peace and/or Robert Sacre.

Offensively, Hibbert is not a significant force but Randle has shown he can score. But Randle is the fifth-highest scoring Laker at 10.6 a night while shooting just 40.5% from the field.

Randle is leading the Lakers at 9.4 rebounds a night.

X-factor

The Kings get points from players like Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, Omri Casspi and Marco Belinelli, but it’s point guard Rajon Rondo who drives Sacramento’s offense.

Rondo is averaging 11.6 assists a night, along with 3.9 turnovers. He’s also a double-digit scorer at 11.7 a night, shooting 45.3% from the field and 33.8% from three-point range.

The Lakers’ point-guard tandem of Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell aren’t nearly as experienced as Rondo.  Clarkson is more of a scorer than a play-maker.  The team has high hopes that Russell will develop into a high-assist guard but as a rookie, he’s averaging 3.4 a night with 2.4 turnovers -- while scoring 11.9 points.

Clarkson is averaging 15.2 points with 2.4 assists against 1.9 turnovers.

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Outlook

The Lakers certainly have a chance to get the win, but Sacramento, while wildly inconsistent this season, should be favorite on Wednesday night.

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


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