Kings look to keep Lakers out of playoff picture

Kings look to keep Lakers out of playoff picture
March 30, 2013, 10:45 am
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Kobe Bryant needs five points to pass Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list, but his status is uncertain for Saturday night. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

INSIDE THE MATCHUP

- The Kings have won their last three home games against the Lakers, after Los Angeles had won the previous five meetings played in Sacramento.

- The Lakers have given up 103 or more points in four straight games (1-3), their longest such streak since opponents scored 103+ points on them in six straight contests, January 1-11.

- Sacramento is averaging 108.9 points per game since the All-Star break, which, entering this weekend, led the NBA. The Kings are looking for their first three-game win streak since taking three straight, December 5-8.

- Kobe Bryant (31415) needs five more points to pass Wilt Chamberlain (31419) for fourth place on the NBA all-time career scoring list. Bryant had 30 points in Thursday's loss to Milwaukee, but after the game was using crutches to deal with what he said is a bone spur in his foot. Bryant has had 30+ points in each of his last three games.

- Dwight Howard has had 10 or more rebounds in 19 straight games. Not is that the longest active streak in the NBA, entering this weekend it was more than twice as long as the next-longest active streak (Reggie Evans -- 8).

- DeMarcus Cousins had 34 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's win over the Suns. It was Cousins' second 30+/14+ game of the season and third of his career.

Programming note: Lakers-Kings tip off tonight at 7 p.m.

UPDATE (12:30 p.m.) -- Kobe Bryant, listed as probable with a bone spur in his left foot, and Steve Nash, listed as questionable with a hip spasm and sore hamstring, will play tonight against the Kings, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

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It wasn't long ago when the Los Angeles Lakers had finally found their groove and appeared to be coasting into the playoffs.

Their latest rash of injuries may have put those postseason hopes in jeopardy.

The Lakers know they won't have Metta World Peace available following regular season-ending knee surgery, but having Kobe Bryant on Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings will surely cushion the blow.

Following a 113-103 loss at Milwaukee on Thursday, the Lakers revealed Bryant has been dealing with a bone spur in his left foot. Bryant, third in the NBA in scoring at 27.2 per game, finished with 30 points despite 6-of-17 shooting against the Bucks, but he left the arena using one crutch.

"Inflamed on me. I'll be all right," Bryant told Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers (37-36) listed Bryant as probable despite the injury. He's been bothered by the bone spur for several games, and he got treatment on the injury Friday.

Los Angeles went 2-1 with Bryant sidelined almost three full games because of a sprained ankle earlier this month.

Bryant's latest injury came a day after the team announced World Peace would miss at least six weeks due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. Jodie Meeks has started the last two games in his place, shooting 6 of 19 from the field.

Steve Nash is listed as questionable with discomfort in his right hip and hamstrings after he sat out the fourth quarter Thursday. Pau Gasol has played four games after missing 20 with a foot injury but is averaging just 10.0 points since returning.

The Lakers have lost four of five overall - following an 11-3 stretch - and can't afford to continue their slide with Dallas and Utah fighting them for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"We need to win every single game that we have left," Dwight Howard said. "... If we want to do anything in the playoffs, we will need to come together as a team and win some games."

Howard enters this contest having recorded 12 straight double-doubles, averaging 19.0 points and 15.2 rebounds. However, he's totaled 12 points and 13 boards in his last two visits to Sacramento.

Los Angeles has lost three straight there, including a 113-97 defeat Nov. 21 despite Bryant's 38 points. He's averaged 33.2 in his past six matchups with the Kings.

His absence didn't hurt the Lakers in the last meeting, winning 113-102 on March 17 as Antawn Jamison made five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 27.

DeMarcus Cousins sat out that night with a quad injury - he missed Sacramento's other loss in the season series due to a suspension - but enters this matchup coming off possibly his best performance of the season.

Cousins scored 17 in a row in the first half and finished with a season-high 34 on 12-of-16 shooting Thursday in a 117-103 victory at Phoenix. He also grabbed 14 rebounds to help Sacramento win for the sixth time in 10 games.

"He has the whole package," coach Keith Smart said. "When everything comes along in his life, when he grows up and sells into how he plays every night in the NBA, he'll be a special talent."

Cousins battled foul trouble and finished with seven points in the November victory over the Lakers.

Isaiah Thomas led the way with 26 points against Los Angeles earlier this month. He's averaged 26.3 on 60.5 percent shooting - including 14 for 23 from 3-point range - in his last three games overall.

The Kings have scored 110.3 per game - 10.3 above their season average - over their last 16. They could maintain that pace against a Los Angeles defense allowing an average of 113.0 points on a four-game road trip which ends Saturday.

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