Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings
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After an impressive first-round sweep of their opponent from last year's Western Conference Final, the Los Angeles Lakers have advanced to the Conference Semifinals against the Sacramento Kings. The Los Angles Lakers took the season series against the Sacramento Kings, 3-to-1, but the Kings may have gained a measure of confidence by recording a resounding 108-84 victory in the final meeting of the season on March 28. And though Kobe Bryant did not play in that contest, and the Lakers did beat the Kings three out of the four times this season, consider this: the Lakers won those three games by a total of just 20 points, including a closely contested overtime victory in November. The Kings are one of the most diverse and electrifying teams in the league, with the ability to wreak havoc for any opponent at anytime.
With an assist from IBM's data-mining program Advanced Scout, let's take a closer look at the regular season matchups between these two teams.
March 28, at Los Angeles: Kings won 108-84
March 25, at Sacramento: Lakers won 84-72
February 4, at Los Angeles: Lakers won 100-94
November 16, at Sacramento: Lakers won 112-110
Shaq or Foster at Center? A surprise in the statistics
When the Lakers had Shaquille O'Neal
in the game, they have been outscored by the Kings 233-226 (-7) even though O'Neal averaged close to 30 points, 13 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks per game. When O'Neal was in the game, the Lakers shot 44 percent (85-of-193), just slightly better than the Kings' 42 percent (85-of-204). Meanwhile when backup center Greg Foster
was on the floor, the Lakers increased their shooting percentage to 47 percent (37-of-78), limited the Kings to 39 percent (29-of-74) and outpaced the Kings by 14 (89-75).
You might think that the Lakers with Foster had this advantage against the Kings bench players but it is just the opposite. Foster did most of his damage against the Kings starting center Vlade Divac
. When Foster and Divac were matched up against each other, the Lakers outscored the Kings 51-34 (+17) while shooting 50 percent (20-of-40) from the field. However, when Shaq and Divac where at center, the Kings outscored the Lakers 161-158 (-3) and Lakers shooting percentage was merely 42 percent (59-of-141).
Who is Lord of the Kings at point guard?
Many people are aware of the Kings' flashy point guard Jason Williams
, but do the Kings need all of that flashiness against the defending champs? Sacramento didn't look like Kings when they had Williams at point guard, Doug Christie
at shooting guard, and Chris Webber
at power forward. For the season series, with that trio on the floor, the Kings where outscored by 15 (119-134), shot only 39 percent (47-of-122) from the field while the Lakers shot 45 percent (55-of-123) from the field. Meanwhile, the Kings where on cruise control with a 97-82 (+15) advantage when they had Bobby Jackson
at point guard, Christie at shooting guard, and Webber at power forward. With this combination of Jackson rather than Williams at the point, their shooting percentage improved to 44 percent (42-of-96), while the Lakers shooting dropped to 39 percent (26-of-66).
Over the regular season matchups, depending on who plays point guard for the Kings, meant a 30 point swing, a 5 percent change in their shooting percentage, and the Lakers shooting percentage dropping by 6 percent.