Here is what you need to know before the Lakers seek their revenge against the Sacramento Kings.
1) Last match with Sacramento ended in heartbreak
The Lakers faced the Kings just three days ago and handled their business for most of the night.
Kyle Kuzma went off for 33 points — his second-most of the season, while Brandon Ingram pitched in 21 of his own. Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball was everywhere, nearly reaching a triple-double with 20 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.
It was a strong showing for a team missing three of its key veterans — LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee — but the young Lakers couldn’t close out. They led by 15 in the fourth quarter, yet the Kings came storming back.
While Kuzma provided some clutch shooting of his own, the shot of the night belonged to Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sunk a rainbow 3-pointer with no time left to beat the Lakers by one.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 28, 2018
2) Winning without the King isn’t easy
Breaking News: It’s a lot easier to win when the world’s greatest player is in the game.
After falling to the LA Clippers on Friday, the Lakers have lost their first two contests of the year without LeBron.
And this isn’t a new development. Dating back to March 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James’ teams have lost 13 straight games when he doesn’t play.
The Lakers will have another opportunity to end that streak against Sacramento, as James is listed as out for this contest due to a strained left groin. With Rajon Rondo (and potentially JaVale McGee) also missing this game, it will likely fall upon the Lakers’ youthful core to step up, as all of their current starters — Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac — are 23 or younger.
3) Kuzma has been taking it inside
It’s been a nice stretch for Kuzma, who is averaging 25.3 points and 7.7 rebounds over his last three games.
While his 3-point shot — 4-of-21 during that span, 30.0 percent on the season — has yet to bounce back to his rookie-year standard, Kuzma has been able to keep his offense rolling by attacking inside.
Over the last three games, the 23-year-old has shot 60.5 percent inside the arc (23-of-38), including a whopping 14-of-17 in the restricted area.
Kuzma has been electric in transition lately, which has allowed him to get efficient looks at the rim. And he’s certainly also capable of creating for himself off the dribble, getting to the cup off drives, cuts and post-ups.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 29, 2018
Lakers: JaVale McGee (respiratory infection) is questionable. LeBron James (strained left groin), Rajon Rondo (right ring finger surgery) and Michael Beasley (personal reasons) are out.
Kings: Marvin Bagley III (left knee bone bruise) is out.
Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: White Association
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
Source: Los Angeles Lakers