Coming off the announcement of a new arena plan with $150 million committed by the Maloofs, the Sacramento Kings prepare for a big weekend of basketball. On Friday evening, the Kings travel to the Staples Center for the second night of a back-to-back against the Lakers and move on to Phoenix on Sunday to battle the Suns. As if this was not enough, the track team of the Los Angeles Clippers are the appetizers.
The Lakers will prove to be an interesting challenge for Sacramento. If the Kings can rebound from Thursday night’s Clippers game with enough energy to push the tempo, they can be successful. The Kings opened this season with a win against the Lakers, a game in which the speed of action overwhelmed Los Angeles. Derek Fisher was unable to stop guard rotation, and the Kings held a fourth-quarter lead for a surprising victory.
The Lakers have struggled with team production this year and still pivot from wins to losses based on the dominance of Kobe Bryant. With trade rumors illuminating the Laker locker room with questions of Gasol and Bynum, Kobe Bryant has proven more aggressive than ever. Taking more than 20 shots per game, it is clear that Bryant remains the focal point of the offense.
For the Kings to prevail, DeMarcus Cousins must hold his own against the towering Bynnum and Gasol. Marcus Thornton must prove his worth against the best guard in the Western Conference. More than this, the Kings need to play as a unit and improve their assist-to-turnover ratio. A Thursday loss to the Clippers indicated how much work the Kings need to combine with their individual talents.
Morale after two Los Angeles opponents will be critical to the atmosphere in Phoenix on Sunday. The Suns are opportunistic and willing to pick apart the teams that can not withstand the endurance test of this shortened season. Lack of role playing from Jimmer Fredette, John Salmons and J.J. Hickson on a consistent basis have been thorns in the side of the guard-laden franchise. Working together has bridged gaps in big wins this year and will be key to the basketball weekend for Sacramento.