Here is what you need to know before the Lakers look to make it three straight wins against the Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers are aiming to replicate one of their hottest starts of the season, having jumped out to a 40-14 lead in Wednesday’s win over San Antonio. Despite this scorching run, the Spurs eventually rallied to tie it, but the Lakers hung on and never trailed in their seven-point victory.
A huge reason for this success was the play of Tyler Ennis, who made a last-second start at point guard in place of D’Angelo Russell (sore knee). Ennis was impactful on both sides of the ball, scoring 19 points with six assists while also keeping San Antonio’s guards in check. The 22-year-old has now scored double figures in five of his last six games.
In addition to Russell — who dropped 28 points in L.A.’s previous win over Memphis — the Lakers had to overcome several injuries, as Brandon Ingram (knee tendinitis) and Jordan Clarkson (knee contusion) both had to leave the game in San Antonio. However, Ingram is expected to play Friday, while Russell and Clarkson are considered questionable.
The win over the Spurs also marked an achievement of longevity for Corey Brewer, who took over as the NBA’s current iron man. Since Feb. 7, 2014, Brewer has played in 273 consecutive games — the longest such streak in the league.
Brewer’s teammate, David Nwaba, knows quite a bit about playing nonstop. After sealing L.A.’s win over the Spurs with a dunk, the rookie made the 3 1/2-hour drive south to Hidalgo, Texas, where he suited up for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in their D-League playoff opener. In spite of Nwaba’s 22 points, the D-Fenders lost and will look to stave off elimination on Saturday’s game back in Los Angeles.
When the Lakers last faced the Kings on Valentine’s Day, they fell by one point back as DeMarcus Cousins erupted for 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. However, since trading Cousins at the All-Star break, Sacramento has won only seven times in 21 games.
With Cousins in New Orleans, the Kings’ frontcourt has turned to a crew of youngsters. Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein is on a three-game double-double streak, while Skal Labissiere ranks third among rookies in field goal percentage (52.0) and had a 32-point, 11-rebound outburst against Phoenix about a month ago.
When the Lakers last saw Buddy Hield, he ranked last in the entire NBA in 3-point percentage (24.0) back on Nov. 29. Since then, Hield has found his rhythm, shooting 43.2 percent from deep while earning Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors for March. The Kings’ main acquisition in the Cousins trade, Hield currently leads his draft class in made triples (1.8) and is fourth in scoring (10.1 ppg).
With Hield leading the way, the Kings have shot the league’s best 3-point percentage since the All-Star break (41.9). Strangely, they haven’t felt inclined to let it fly more, as they have also attempted the second-fewest 3-pointers in this span. This is all despite boasting the likes of Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo — who both place in the top 15 in 3-point percentage — and Anthony Tolliver, who hits the second-best clip among bigs.
Backup point guard Ty Lawson has shown a resurgence over the past week, scoring double figures in four straight games. The 29-year-old popped off for a pair of 20-point games during this span and leads the Kings in assists (4.7) despite primarily coming off the bench.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (right patellar tendinitis) is probable. D’Angelo Russell (sore left knee) and Jordan Clarkson (left knee contusion) are questionable. Ivica Zubac (high right ankle sprain) is out.
Kings: Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) and Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
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