Lakers vs. Kings Preview: Can L.A. finally beat Sacramento?

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The Lakers and Kings will go at it again for a rematch of last week’s battle but this time in Sacramento. This will be the last match between both teams and a chance for L.A. to at least get one against the Kings this season.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings

When: 7 p.m. PT, Mar.13

Where: Golden 1 Center

Watch: ESPN, Spectrum Sportsnet

The Lakers are six games above .500 for the first time since May 2021. They have a chance to improve that if they beat the pesky Kings on Wednesday, the team that seems to have their number this season.

In fact, Sacramento has gotten the best of Los Angeles in the past two seasons, winning six out of their last seven games against the Lakers. De’Aaron Fox, in particular, has averaged 30 points across those games. It’s about time the Lakers finally beat the Kings.

But in order for that to happen, the purple and gold might want to remember what happened exactly a week ago, when they were run off their home floor by the Kings. It was one of the worst losses of the season and another failed attempt by the Lakers to climb up the competitive Western Conference standings. The Lakers have the opportunity to make up for that but here’s what needs to happen first:

Can the Lakers stop Fox?

In my preview ahead of last Wednesday’s vital game against the Kings, I mentioned that the only way the Lakers can have a shot against Sacramento is if D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves keep up with the Kings’ backcourt, specifically Fox and Malik Monk. That didn’t happen as Fox and Monk had 44 and 26 points, respectively, dominating the Lakers’ backcourt. L.A. has yet to find an answer for the Kings’ dynamic backcourt.

What I’ll be looking forward to the most in this game is how the Lakers adjust their defensive scheme against the Kings’ backcourt. Will they find a way to contain them better than they did last game? And more importantly, can Russell, Reaves and the rest of the Lakers guards keep up against their backcourt? These will dictate the result of Wednesday’s game.

Can AD finally beat Domantas Sabonis?

With the loss last week, AD is now notably 0-9 against Sabonis, who outplayed him last game again. This is one of the most bizarre streaks I’ve ever paid close attention to and it needs to end on Wednesday. Davis struggled last game against the Kings, scoring just 14 points on 5-13 shooting while Sabonis had 16 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists. AD needs to really impose his will in this because that wasn’t evident last game. It’s going to be interesting to see how he bounces back in this one.

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The Lakers defense needs to show up

One of the biggest reasons the Lakers’ 19-point lead, which they built as early as the first quarter, evaporated in 14.5 minutes is their incompetent defense. In those 14.5 minutes, L.A. allowed Sacramento — who has the 11th-best offense in the league — to score 59 points.

This Lakers defense needs to be better not just in order to beat the Kings on Wednesday but if they want to go on a long run again moving forward. That starts with them playing with a sense of urgency and cooking up the right game plan every game. Now that they’ve seen enough of what the Kings do against them and knowing the fact that they’ve yet to defeat them this season, how will the Lakers approach this rematch? Will they fin ally have an answer against a team that they could face in the Playoffs?

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We’ll get our answers on Wednesday as L.A. looks to avoid a season sweep.

Notes and Updates:

  • One of the few bright spots in last Wednesday’s game against the Kings was Rui Hachimura, who put up 29 points on 13-17 shooting. The Lakers should find a way to get him more involved early in this one.
  • The Kings will be on the second night of a back-to-back against the Lakers on Wednesday, while the latter is coming off two days of rest.
  • If the Lakers beat the Kings on Wednesday, they will be two games closer to Sacramento in the Western Conference standings, which is important if they want to claim the seventh or eight seed instead of the ninth or 10th. Note that the Kings have the seventh toughest schedule in the league moving forward so there’s really an avenue for the Lakers to catch them — for as long as they continue to take advantage of the opportunity.
  • For the Lakers’ injury report, Anthony Davis (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy) is probable.
  • LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) is noted as questionable while Christian Wood (left knee effusion), Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain), Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery), Jarred Vanderbilt (right midfoot sprain) and Collin Castleton (right wrist fracture) are all out. Rookie Jalen Hood-Schfino will be with the South Bay Lakers.
  • The Kings have yet to release an injury report, but Keegan Murray (right ankle sprain) and Sasha Vezenkov (right ankle sprain) didn’t suit up against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

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