Find out how Evans, Thornton and Thompson prepare to battle L.A. Plus, get an update on the status of Cousins and a breakdown of the team’s most effective lineups.
Kings players anticipate an intense contest against a familiar opponent on Sunday.
“Every time we play the Lakers, it’s always an exciting game,” said Tyreke Evans, who’s averaged 16.4 points on 54.1 percent shooting from the field against L.A. over the last two seasons.
Sacramento has won three of the last five outings in the series – including a 113-97 victory at Sleep Train Arena in the most recent matchup on Nov. 21, 2012.
Marcus Thornton, who’s scored 20 or more points in three of the last five matchups, reveals he takes immense pride and enjoyment in defeating the Lakers.
“It’s always fun to play those guys,” said No. 23. “With the history they have, any chance you get to beat them, it’s good.”
While the status of Bryant (sprained ankle) may not be determined until gametime, the ultra-competitive Thornton hopes the perennial All-Star suits up on Sunday.
“He’s one of the best in the world, so anytime I can play against one of the best, I embrace it (and) I try to bring my game more, too,” he said. “He brings out the best in you, so I’ll try to keep it going.”
Jason Thompson believes ball movement and communication on both ends of the court will be instrumental for the team to find success at STAPLES Center.
“(We have to) just stay consistent, talk on defense, make sure we don’t (commit unnecessary) fouls, protect the paint – which we’ve been doing as of late – and make the extra pass,” said No. 34. “(It’s important) that we’re not forcing things in the paint on offense and making it tough on the defense.”
– Center DeMarcus Cousins (left quad contusion) was unable to practice on Friday and is listed as day-to-day.
“He came out, gave it a shot to see what he can do and it’s still a little tender for him to run up and down the floor right now,” said Kings Head Coach Keith Smart. “We’ll see what happens (Saturday) and then we’ll (fly) to L.A. and get ready to play.”
While the Kings leader said the big man will continue to receive treatment, the team is currently preparing to be without its leading scorer and rebounder.
“I think in this case here, you plan as if he’s not (playing), and then if he can go, it’s a bonus,” said Smart. “We (practiced Friday) as if he isn’t going to be (available).”
– In 12 games since the NBA All-Star break, eight different Kings five-player units have played together for at least 10 minutes, according to NBA.com/Stats. The combination of Isaiah Thomas, Evans, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Thompson – the starting lineup in Wednesday’s lopsided victory over Chicago – has tallied the team’s highest plus/minus rating (+13) in 21 minutes of action over the course of three contests.
Smart credits the reliable scoring and constant movement of the frontcourt for the lineup’s consistent production.
“I think you have two high-energy guys – two guys who can space the floor and run the floor extremely well,” he said. “They move the ball and then move to the second and third (option) within the offense, and they’re very, very active and energetic on defense.”
Evans – who’s averaged 23.7 points on 66.7 percent from the field and five assists over the last three games – reveals Patterson stretches the floor with his outside touch, allowing Kings guards to get in the lane and score at the rim.
“When his man is in the paint, he hits a couple of shots and they have to get out and (guard) him on the perimeter and that helps out for us to get to the basket,” said No. 13.
Since the All-Star break, the Kings rank second in the League in points per game (110.9), fastbreak points (19.6), points in the paint (47.7) and three-point field goal percentage (42.2), as well as seventh in assists (24.7), according to NBA.com/Stats. Sacramento has also tallied 20 or more assists in 11 of the last 12 outings and dished 30 or more four times in 2012-13.
|Category||1st Half (54 G)||2nd Half
|Pts Per Game||96.8||110.9|
|Asts Per Game||19.7||24.7|
|Free Throw %||75.7%||82.1%|
|Fastbreak Pts Per Game||15.7||19.6|
|Pts in the Paint Per Game||45.6||47.7|