10 Things to Know: Lakers vs. Kings (10/30/15)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers hit the road for the first time this season against the Sacramento Kings.
1) Kobe Bryant is just two buckets away from climbing past former teammate Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA’s list for made shots. Bryant is currently at 11,329 baskets, and will pass O’Neal for fifth place behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
2) The Lakers plan to get D’Angelo Russell more involved in the offense by having him take over as the primary ballhandler. In his NBA debut on Wednesday, Russell touched the ball just 36 times — fewer than five of his teammates, including backup power forward Ryan Kelly.
3) Metta World Peace returns to the city where he chiseled his reputation as one of the league’s top defenders. Then known as Ron Artest, World Peace played more than two years for the Kings (2006-08), including one First Team All-Defense campaign. The Queensbridge native ranked second in the NBA in steals for both of his full seasons in Sacramento.
4) The Kings have won three straight against L.A., including back-to-back victories to close out the 2014-15 season. The Lakers are currently looking to avenge a 122-99 loss at Staples Center in last year’s finale.
5) The Lakers lost their season opener, 112-111, and Friday’s contest could be another shootout, as both teams sat near the bottom of the NBA’s defensive rankings. The Lakers allowed the second-most points last year (105.3), while Sacramento was just a hair better (105.0).
6) Over the offseason, both franchises invested in defensive big men in order to rein in this weakness. The Lakers traded for 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert, who made the fourth-biggest impact on opponent field goal percentage last year (-5.9 percent). Meanwhile, Sacramento used the draft’s No. 6 pick on seven-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who led the entire NCAA in defensive win shares (3.4) while at Kentucky.
7) The Lakers will face a familiar foe in a new location, as Rajon Rondo joined Sacramento over the offseason. Rondo, whom the Lakers faced in two NBA Finals with Boston, handed out the fifth-most assists last year (7.9), but it was a down season overall. He was traded mid-year to Dallas, where he struggled to fit in with the rest of the offense, leading to a first-round playoff exit.
8) The Kings boast one of the best post players in the league: Second Team All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins. The 25-year-old was a monstrous interior presence last year, averaging the fifth-most points (24.1) and third-most rebounds (12.7) in the NBA. Also, no player scored more in the paint (12.5) than “Boogie.”
9) Backup small forward Omri Casspi has a specific talent that helped him have the best season of his career last year. He led the NBA by shooting 106-of-151 on layups (70.2 percent), which pushed him past noted layup savant Goran Dragic (69.6 percent).
10) The Kings added a Hall of Famer to their staff in Nancy Lieberman, who became the second woman with a full-time coaching position in NBA history. Lieberman — who was nicknamed “Lady Magic” after Lakers great Magic Johnson — has broken barriers before. In 1986, she became the first woman to play in a men’s league when she debuted with the USBL’s Springfield Fame. Twenty-three years later, she coached the Texas Legends to a playoff spot as the first female head coach in D-League history.
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