The Los Angeles Lakers (37-36) are travelling to take on the Sacramento Kings (27-46) in a pivotal late-season showdown that has numerous playoff implications riding on the outcome.
Even if the Kings are effectively eliminated from contention, they are still going to play hard to attempt to foil their in-state rivals’ chances of making the postseason in 2013.
It’s going to be a great game and one you don’t want to miss a single minute of, so keep reading to find out where to watch, who to keep an eye on, a prediction on the final score and much more.
When: Saturday, Mar. 30 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif.
Watch: TWC SN (LAL), ABC Sacramento (SAC)
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Lakers Injury Report (via USA Today)
G Steve Nash, Questionable, Hip/Back
G Kobe Bryant, Questionable, Foot
F Metta World Peace, Out, Knee
C Jordan Hill, Out, Hip
Kings Injury Report (via USA Today)
F James Johnson, Out, Personal
Lakers Player to Watch: Kobe Bryant
While the Black Mamba is officially listed as questionable, we can’t foresee anything less than a broken leg keeping the Lakers superstar sidelined during the playoff chase.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Bryant is suffering from bone spurs in his foot and said that the area is inflamed, but the issue has been ongoing for some time now.
Regardless, with L.A. sitting at 37-36—good for No. 8 in the Western Conference standings—and Utah (36-36) and Dallas (35-37) right in the rearview, Kobe knows he cannot afford to sit if his team is going to make a playoff push.
Considering the Mamba hasn’t scored less than 30 points in his last three outings, bone spurs and all, you can expect him to show up versus a mediocre Kings squad.
This is a game that L.A. cannot afford to lose if it is going to hold on for that last spot in the postseason, so don’t be surprised to see a superhuman effort from Bryant on Saturday evening.
Kings Player to Watch: DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins has been the Kings top scorer and rebounder during the 2012-13 campaign, but hasn’t helped lead them to many wins.
However, he’s been able to put together some amazing stretches, including a 34-point, 14-rebound performance in just three quarters of play in a win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
When Cousins gets going like that, the 6’11”, 270-pound center is practically unstoppable. He’s highly skilled, but his mental lapses and questionable motor have held back his development over his first three seasons.
For example, less than a week ago against the Philadelphia 76ers, the big man hit just three of nine from the field and scored just eight points in a 117-103 loss.
Depending on which Cousins shows up, the Kings will either have a great chance of winning this or get run off their home court. It’s worth tuning in to find out.
The Lakers have been mired in a funk lately, winning just one of their last five games, but they’ll pick up a much-needed road victory against Sacramento.
Which team will win?
There is too much at stake for L.A. to falter against a subpar Kings team this late in the regular season. While injuries to Steve Nash, Metta World Peace and Bryant may limit them on paper, the Lakers still have a relatively healthy Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to lean on and get buckets.
Sacramento won’t go down without a fight, especially if Cousins is feeling it, but D12 is one of the best defensive centers in the NBA and should be able to contain the mercurial superstar.
Expect L.A. to come out swinging right from the opening tip and build a large lead in the early going. While fourth-quarter collapses have been a problem for the organization, the Lakers will be too far ahead by the time the Kings mount a late run.
Lakers 110 – Kings 103