The Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings both lost close home openers on Wednesday night, as the new NBA season began. Should both teams be equally concerned about where they stand in the NBA?
Neither team won on Wednesday, but for the Lakers, a defeat was a million times worse than it was for the Kings. The Lakers blew a 15-point second-half lead to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team which is not likely to make the playoffs this season. Kobe Bryant missed shot after shot in the fourth quarter and called a questionable timeout on his own (against the recommendation of head coach Byron Scott), preceding a missed shot by Lou Williams on the final play of the game. The Lakers let a bad team off the hook at home, immediately creating the idea that this season is going to be every bit as miserable as the previous one in Hollywood. It was a terrible beginning. It was a game the Lakers really needed to win if they were going to set a different tone for their season.
The Kings lost, but they lost to a team which is an NBA title contender, the Los Angeles Clippers. They were a dog on the NBA odds. More to the point, the Kings faced a double-digit deficit against a better team and still found a way to come back and briefly take the lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Kings have to be very encouraged that they almost stole a game from a team with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Lance Stephenson, among others. DeMarcus Cousins was very strong inside. Darren Collison played well as the point guard in relief of Rajon Rondo, and Omri Casspi was solid in his first outing of the season. The Kings can go places if they continue to get along together and trust head coach George Karl. The Lakers lost in a way which creates depression and doubt; the Kings lost in a way which engenders more hope.
With this matchup, a lot of people are going to go straight to the big man. Roy Hibbert of the Lakers goes up against DeMarcus Cousins. This is a classic offense-versus-defense matchup, with Cousins being the highly skilled offensive player and Hibbert being the tall shot-blocking defensive tower near the rim. Cousins is a player who finds many ways to score, and so his matchup with Hibbert looks promising for the Kings. Yet, beyond this one-on-one battle, it’s at the other four positions where the Kings separate themselves from the Lakers. Los Angeles is so green and so bad on defense on the perimeter, with Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell facing a tough task against the Kings’ more experienced guards and wings. The Lakers are going to have a tough time keeping up for 48 minutes.
What’s The Pick?
The line started with Sacramento as a six-point choice, and that line went up to seven. The Lakers are awful, and they’re already discouraged. Take Sacramento with your NBA picks here.
NBA Pick: Sacramento -7 at The Greek