The Sacramento Kings always have been a thorn in the side of the Los Angeles Lakers, and tonight’s game will be no different. The Kings are on a meteoric start to the season, which is largely unexpected, even by their own fans. The Lakers started on a different trajectory, but things are looking up for the young team (and LeBron James). Here are three things to look for during tonight’s game.
Lonzo Ball’s availability
On Friday it was reported that Ball tweaked his ankle during practice. He landed on a teammate’s foot during a scrimmage near the end of the day. Luke Walton said he is unsure of Ball’s status for the game tonight.
“Hopefully it’s nothing serious. We got him out of the end of practice. He went in and got some treatment, and I haven’t seen him yet since.
Unlike last year, the Lakers actually have depth at the point guard position and have several players who can handle the ball if need be.
“We felt last year when (Lonzo) got hurt, we were searching for that guy, we finally put Brandon at point guard and that kind of helped us get going again,” said Walton. “This year, we have options to go to if he is out, or if later in the season if other people get hurt, we have guys who we’re very confident can play that point guard position for us. From Brandon, to LeBron (James), to Lance (Stephenson), even Svi (Mykhailiuk), I mean Svi played point guard for his (Ukrainian) national team. We have a lot of guys we feel confident with.”
Of course, the narrative is that Ball is once again ducking Kings’ point guard De’Aaron Fox. Ball has missed several games against the Kings throughout his short career and that leads to many believing that he is scared to go up against the former Kentucky guard. However, Ball goes up against the best competition night in and night out for the Lakers, and I highly doubt that of all the guards in the league that he would be scared of a guy from his own draft class.
We are expecting an update from the team during Saturday morning’s shootaround, and we will keep you posted on any information.
Tyson Chandler’s effective play
During the four-point win over the Wolves on Wednesday, Chandler made his Lakers debut with 23 minutes, including playing late in the fourth quarter. We took a look at his effectiveness in an article posted the following day, and it’s safe to assume that Chandler will be a great role player for the team during the rest of the season.
The Lakers lacked any true backup center before Chandler, and his contributions on the court were well-noted. One of Chandler or starting center JaVale McGee were on the court at all times for the Lakers during the win, and having a backup to turn to when McGee needs rest is crucial.
The move to .500
With a win on Saturday night, the Lakers would move to .500 on the season and offset the rough start that they had to the season. While the Kings aren’t the toughest team, they have done well so far this season against tough competition, and it certainly won’t be a landslide for either team.
Both the Lakers and the Kings have great young roleplayers who can affect the game in multiple ways, but the Lakers have LeBron James. That will be the difference on Saturday night.
Saturday night’s game starts at 7 p.m. PDT and can be viewed on Spectrum SportsNet.