Lakers, James visit Sacramento
The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player has performed 13 times in Sacramento for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat in the past 15 seasons, winning nine times.
His last visit was a personal success when he recorded a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists last December, but the Kings prevailed over Cleveland 109-95 behind 24 points from another NBA legend, Vince Carter.
James will make two visits to Sacramento this season as a new member of the Western Conference. The Lakers will return on Dec. 27.
This time around, James will go up against a Kings team that will be playing the second night of a home back-to-back.
Sacramento’s balance helped overcome a 39-point, 19-rebound explosion by Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Kings have improved their depth of late with the addition of two-way player Troy Williams to the regular rotation.
He was called upon for 20 minutes off the bench in the Minnesota game, chipping in with eight points and three rebounds.
There’s no ideal matchup for James, but at 6-foot-7, Williams has the body to be given a shot.
“He has size, he can jump over somebody, shoot the ball (and) he’s physical,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said this week. “I think he gives us something a little bit different to do some flexibility things.”
The Lakers also feature a bit of a new look with veteran center Tyson Chandler having been added as a free agent earlier this week after being bought out by the Phoenix Suns.
The 36-year-old California native combined with starter JaVale McGee to give the Lakers 18 points and 12 rebounds out of the center position in Wednesday’s 114-110 home win over Minnesota.
“I think it helps stabilize us,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of the addition of Chandler, who put in 23 minutes in his Los Angeles debut. “I think it will help make us more of the consistent type of team we want to be defensively and rebounding.”
The Lakers, who have won five of eight after an 0-3 start, prevailed in their most recent visit to Sacramento, riding a season-best, 34-point night from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a 113-108 win last February.
Los Angeles likely will be without starting point guard Lonzo Ball, who sprained an ankle at practice Friday.
He recorded double-doubles in both meetings with the Kings last season as a rookie, including a rare rebounds/assists double-double (11 of each) in a home win last January.
The injury, which isn’t considered serious, occurred when Ball stepped on a teammate’s foot during Friday’s team workout.