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Preview: Lakers at Sacramento Kings

Preview: Lakers at Sacramento Kings
Kings forward Rudy Gay, right, drives against Clippers guard Lance Stephenson during the teams' 2015 season opener on Oct. 28 in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The Lakers (0-1) play their first road game of the season on Friday night, visiting the Sacramento Kings (0-1).

The Kings lost their home opener on Wednesday to the Clippers, 111-104. The Lakers lost their opener at Staples Center to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 112-111.

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Kobe Bryant missed the Lakers' shoot-around Friday with a sore throat but is expected to play. Larry Nance Jr. is questionable with knee tendinitis.

The Kings are healthy and talented with a number of new players joining stars DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, including Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein.

Key matchup

In a Kentucky-heavy battle, Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle will likely draw Kings forward/center DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins' position on the floor changes throughout the game, depending on personnel. If the Kings go with Koufos, Cousins is the forward.

Randle's first test on opening night was veteran Kevin Garnett. Dealing with Cousins, who made the All-Star team last year in the Western Conference, will be a task.

While Randle has grown tremendously from where he was before his season-ending broken leg on opening night last year, he's still developing as a player.

The Kings also have the defensive-minded Cauley-Stein, Randle's former teammate, to put on Randle if need be.

X-factor

This early in the season, the Lakers are still getting acquainted with one another.

The offense may come from a variety of sources, like Lou Williams, Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, Randle and Bryant. The team is still waiting for rookie D'Angelo Russell to have a breakout moment.

The Kings were forced to rely too heavily on Cousins and Gay last season, but they'll have more help this year from a healthy Darren Collison, Rondo as a playmaker and Belinelli, who can put up points very quickly.

Neither team has a reputation for being a strong defensive unit.

Outlook

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The Kings may be more ready than the Lakers this year to make a playoff push, although Sacramento still has a lot to prove -- especially in chemistry, where the team has floundered in recent seasons.

The Lakers have a strong chemistry but the team is still quite young and inexperienced, outside of Bryant and a few other veterans.

Put the Lakers down for a loss on Friday, with the Kings climbing to .500.

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

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