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Lakers-Kings matchup: Five things to watch

April 26, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Lakers Coach Mike Brown and point guard Ramon Sessions talk during a a 114-106 double-overtime victory over the Thunder on Sunday at Staples Center.
Lakers Coach Mike Brown and point guard Ramon Sessions talk during a a 114-106… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Some things to watch when the Lakers (41-24) visit the Sacramento Kings (21-44) Thursday at Arco Arena:

1. The Lakers' starters are resting. So much for that intrigue surrounding whether Kobe Bryant would try to surpass Kevin Durant for a third scoring title. Though I'm personally surprised, you can't fault Bryant for resting in a meaningless season finale with the playoffs on the horizon. Same thing with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. As much as it'd be nice to establish team chemistry with an evolving lineup minus suspended Metta World Peace, one game isn't going to suddenly manufacture that. With Lakers Coach Mike Brown sitting out his starters, they essentially had a whole week before playing their next competitive game. That approach will at least mitigate the challenges the Lakers will face in the postseason.

2. Look for Ramon Sessions to be aggressive. While Sessions will be the lone starter playing in tonight's game, the reserves entering the lineup are Steve Blake, Christian Eyenga, Josh McRoberts and Jordan Hill. Sessions has often struck a good balance between attacking the basket and facilitating in his last month with the Lakers, but he mostly tilted toward the latter. So don't be surprised if Sessions plays more aggressively and looks to score. 

3. Hill will largely benefit from this game. He caught everyone by surprise when he posted 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds Sunday against Oklahoma City because he never played and he doesn't know much of the offensive and defensive sets. He provided an impressive presence against the Thunder by simply relying on hustle points and plays. But as much as this game's outcome doesn't matter, Hill's execution surely does. There won't be any other opportunity to get an extended run to iron out kinks before Brown actually features him in the rotation during the postseason.

4. What can Eyenga bring? Whatever he does tonight likely won't land him in the regular rotation. But since there's not much to really look forward to in this virtually meaningless game, it'll be interesting to see what Eyenga provides after the Lakers recalled him from the Development League. Even Brown doesn't know much about Eyenga, who averaged 12.2 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes during his six-game stint with the D-Fenders. Brown said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak reports that Eyenga is "athletic" and has a "really nice shot." We'll see. 

5. Give Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock extended minutes. Despite largely helping the Lakers' outside shooting this year, Goudelock hasn't seen significant minutes in the last month. Brown wanted to tighten up the team's player rotation before the playoffs since the Lakers' rookie guard remains a defensive liability. After Morris played at backup point guard during part of Steve Blake's 13-game absence earlier this season, Brown slid Goudelock into that role seven games into the stint because he felt Morris made too many mistakes. Regardless, both have promising potential and simply need more playing time to improve. That opportunity sometimes proved unrealistic because of the Lakers' small margin for error and Brown wrongfully not allowing his bench to develop. This is the perfect opportunity for both rookies to give the Lakers a better idea on providing a blueprint on what the rookies guards need to work on this offseason. 

MORE:

Mike Bresnahan on Metta World Peace's suspension

Lakers scrambling on filling Metta World Peace's absence

Metta World Peace suspended: Elbow to Harden a blow for the Lakers


Lakers-Kings matchup: Five things to watch

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