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Preview: Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings

March 17, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Kings guard Tyreke Evans, right, guards Kobe Bryant earlier this season.
Kings guard Tyreke Evans, right, guards Kobe Bryant earlier this season. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images )

The Lakers (35-32) return home from a three-game road trip to host the Sacramento Kings (23-43) on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant is doubtful after trying to play on Friday in Indiana with a severely sprained ankle, suffered Wednesday in Atlanta.  Bryant played only 12 scoreless minutes against the Pacers but the Lakers were able to pull out a 99-93 win.

The Kings might be without center DeMarcus Cousins, who is dealing with a leg injury.  If he doesn't go, it will be the second time the Lakers get Sacramento without Cousins this season.

The Lakers won the first meeting in November (103-90) when the Sacramento center was out because of a suspension. The Kings won later in the month (113-97) behind 23 points from Marcus Thornton. Bryant scored 38 points in defeat with Steve Nash out with injury.

Key matchup

The natural matchup to watch would be Dwight Howard vs. Cousins. 

If Cousins is out, the Kings still have Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and Cole Aldrich to play upfront, though none are as impactful as their mercurial starting center.

Tyreke Evans is Sacramento's second-leading scorer.  The versatile guard can score, rebound, pass and defend. Without Bryant to help defend Evans, he could be a difficult player for the Lakers to handle.

Nash becomes the true driver of the Lakers' offense without Bryant.

X-factor

Marcus Thornton comes off the bench for Sacramento but he's almost always an offensive spark for Sacramento against the Lakers.  He struggled in the first game and the Kings lost. He put up big numbers in the second meeting -- and Sacramento won.  The Lakers need to contain him.

Jodie Meeks struggled against the Pacers, missing all seven of his shots. With Bryant a question marks, Meeks becomes even more important.

The Lakers are going to need Meeks and his jumper to help spread the floor.

Outlook

The first home game after a road trip can be daunting.  The Lakers will be shorthanded, and although the Kings aren't very good, they'll give the Lakers a challenge.

A loss would drop the Lakers back to ninth in the West but they should be able to beat Sacramento -- winners of only six road games all season.

ALSO:

Lakers are not ready for life without Kobe Bryant

Lakers gain on sixth-place Golden State Warriors

George Hill bemoans Lakers fans taking over in Indiana

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

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