The Sacramento Kings' latest win over the Los Angeles Lakers opened a homestand that ended in disappointing fashion. They hope the next meeting will result in a perfect road trip while aiding in their search for consistency.
The Kings seek their third straight win and sixth in a row against the Lakers on Wednesday night in their second game this week at Staples Center.
Sacramento (17-23) has been up and down since winning five of seven in mid- December, starting with a three-game losing streak that was followed by wins in three of four. The final victory of that stretch was a 118-115 victory over the Lakers on Jan. 7.
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But that three-game homestand concluded with 12-point losses to Golden State and New Orleans, and the roller coaster continued with Thursday's 103-101 win at Utah and Saturday's 110-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
DeMarcus Cousins finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists against the Clippers, who were missing DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin inside. Cousins has averaged 31.1 points and 13.4 rebounds in his last eight games.
''It's a big win for us,'' said Cousins, who had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the last matchup against the Lakers. ''We're still making a lot of mistakes as a team and still having a lot of ups and downs this season, so we're just trying to find that consistency.''
The Kings are rolling offensively as the second-highest scoring team in the league this month at 114.8 points per game, shy of only Golden State's 115.1. The defense remains the issue. While Sacramento allows the most points in the league at 108.3, Los Angeles isn't far down the list at 106.0 – though that number drops to 101.9 in January.
The Kings won the first meeting this season between the Pacific Division foes, 132-114 on Oct. 30, though that also came in Sacramento. The Lakers (9-34) have won 12 of the last 14 in this series at home.
The tight loss against the Kings earlier this month was the second for Los Angeles during a stretch of seven defeats in eight games.
Kobe Bryant – who scored 28 in his final game in Sacramento – has averaged 27.2 points against the Kings in his career, including 29.3 in three postseason series in the early 2000s. The Lakers have one game remaining against Sacramento on March 15 in Los Angeles.
Bryant played through a sore right Achilles and finished with five points during Sunday's 112-95 loss to Houston that opened a three-game homestand. The 17-time All-Star was held to fewer than 10 points for the fourth straight game, but he did match a season high with nine assists – passing Jerry West for second place on the franchise's all-time list with 6,244 behind Magic Johnson (10,141).
Coach Byron Scott says Bryant “is a go” for Wednesday's game, while calling rookie Larry Nance Jr. doubtful with a sore right knee.
Nance started 22 straight games before sitting out Sunday. If he can't play, Julius Randle will take his place in the starting lineup – where he has averaged 11.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in 21 games.
“If (Randle) plays 20-25 minutes, he's almost a walking double-double,” Scott told the team's official website. “He has been able to do that all season long.”