Sacramento Kings game previews between November 7 and November 13, including games against: Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans.
The Kings first road trip was rough, but ended on a high note with a win against the Raptors to bring their record to 3-5 in the first eight games. Now, they return home to the Golden 1 Center and guard Darren Collison will rejoin the team having served his 8-game suspension. It’s been difficult to get a read on this team, but the season is just getting started, so we will see if this week the Kings can steady the ship and work towards .500 or even, dare I say, a winning record.
New Orleans Pelicans
Tuesday, 8 November 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Home
The Kings have a decent chance to build some momentum as they return from Toronto to take on the Pelicans in Sacramento. New Orleans has had a rough start to the season as they have yet to get one in the win column. While they have been bad, the highlight has been star big man Anthony Davis, as is to be expected. He has been playing lights out despite the tough losses averaging 30 points and 11.7 rebounds, including 50 and 45 point outings in his last two games against Denver and Golden State, respectively. Naturally, the matchup to watch this game will be DeMarcus Cousins going at it with fellow Kentucky Wildcat Davis. These two are top big men in the league, and while both teams have their fair share of work to do, watching these two play will surely be a treat.
The rest of the team around Davis leaves plenty to be desired, due to a myriad of factors. Quincy Pondexter and former King Tyreke Evans are out indefinitely due to injuries, and guard Jrue Holiday took a leave of absence from the team to tend to his family as his wife Lauren was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor while she was pregnant. It should be noted that their daughter was born in September and Lauren’s surgery in October was successful, all good news for the Holiday family. Back on the court, Tim Rozier has played well in Holiday’s absence averaging 13 points and 7 assists, so it will be interesting to see how Collison matches up with him. What remains to be seen is if Collison takes over the starting role right away or will come off the bench to allow for some acclimation to the pace of the game as he returns from his suspension.
Los Angeles Lakers
Thursday, 10 November 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Home
I’ll be honest; I came into the season expecting the Lakers to be bad. Like bad, bad. They’re young, they’re Kobe-less for the first time in 20 years (not that it’s mattered since 2013), and they have a new head coach in Luke Walton. To be fair, Walton did lead the record-breaking Warriors in Steve Kerr’s absence for a huge chunk of the season – but on the other hand, I don’t think these Lakers are winning 74 games anytime soon. Regardless, the Lakers have won some respectable games so far including a rout of Golden State, and their young core has played well.
D’Angelo Russell has started off his sophomore campaign playing well with 16.7 points per game, facilitating and leading the offense well. The Lakers maintain an up-tempo offense, are top 10 when it comes to fastbreak points per game. Defending the fastbreak is not something that the Kings have done particularly well thus far, so the Lakers may give them some trouble there. In general, the Lakers have been scoring a whole mess of points as they are averaging 108.8 points per game, good for sixth most in the league. And it’s not just the Russell and big man Julius Randle who have been generating the points; the Lakers bench scoring is highest in the league at 51.2 points per game. The Kings have to control the tempo of the game and not let the Lakers play their fast-paced, high-scoring game.
Portland Trail Blazers
Friday, 11 November 2016 at 10:00 PM ET Away
The Kings will have to turn things around pretty quickly after the two home game stand as they travel to Portland to take on Damian Lillard and the Trailblazers for a back-to-back. This is going to be a very tough matchup for the Kings, particularly given how ridiculously well Lillard has been playing. He’s been scoring like a madman, averaging 34.2 points per game, which is only second to DeMar DeRozan who has literally been scoring at a Jordan-esque level. Containing Lillard will be incredibly difficult, and watching him is tough for Kings fans. Those 34.2 points per game are basically 34.2 reminders that he was taken a pick after the Kings took Thomas Robinson in 2012 and that he could have been playing alongside DeMarcus instead of a guy who is now at the end of the Lakers’ (Robinson’s 6th team in 7 years) bench. But, hindsight is 20/20 and I digress.
While it will be really tough to leave Portland with a W, it isn’t impossible. The Kings will have to rely heavily on their points in the paint, a common theme thus far. Portland is one of the worst teams in the league at defending the paint, so if Boogie can find some room to operate down low, he should be able to score pretty effectively against Mason Plumlee. On the other end, the Kings shouldn’t have too hard a time slowing down the Trailblazers in the paint – it's out of the paint where they do most of their scoring. The Kings have been reliant on DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay for most of their scoring, but having Darren Collison back will be a boon as he will be the third best scoring option and really help the offense take shape. The key here will be to see how Collison is playing after a few games back because his scoring touch, particularly from deep to help with spacing, will be welcomed.