KingsFans.com Gameday 2013-2014 Edition Game 13 Sacramento Kings v. Los Angeles Lakers By Peter Capaldi, the Next Doctor Well at least that was entertaining. After coming out of the gates flatter than a raccoon that strayed a little too close to the freeway, our beloved Sacramento Kings roared back and turned a laugher into a tense down-to-the-wire finish, coming up just short to the best team in LA. If you had told me ten years ago that the Los Angeles Clippers would become the Kings most intense rivals, I probably would have laughed and called you nasty names unfit for print. And yet, that certainly seems to be what has happened, with Demarcus’s general dislike for acting and flopping blossoming into what appears to be downright contempt for the team in red and blue. While the teams in question are certainly different (the role of Shaq seeming to be replaced by that of CPFlop and the role of young upstart Kobe taken by Sir Dunksandflops), you can certainly feel the embers of a potential rivalry brewing. As soon as the Kings are good again, things could get interesting and if, godforbid, the Kings and Clippers matchup in a playoff series, I look forward to blowing out Chris Paul’s eardrums with a chorus of cowbell in the old palace of pain. Stat Watch 2013 23 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 38 minutes- Demarcus Cousins’s statline against the Clippers on Saturday. Observations After almost singlehandedly putting us in a twenty point hole in the first half, Patrick Patterson had his best game as a Sacramento Kings, forming a potent bench tandem with Isaiah Thomas to keep pressure on the veteran Clippers squad. If he had played like that to start the season off, he’d still be starting. As it is, he’s becoming an asset off the bench. The officiating certainly seems to match that of a Lakers-Kings game of old, what with all the calls seeming to go Los Angeles’s way. Luc Mbah a Moute continues to be a complete paradigm shifter on the defensive end of the court, this time around causing all sorts of problems for Chris Paul as the Kings stormed back to take the lead in the second half. While we certainly aren’t all there as a defensive squad, having an individual defender with the pedigree of a Prince Luc certainly can help to mask individual deficiency. When your best defender is capable of guarding point guards and power forwards, it opens up a variety of options on the defensive end. Travis Outlaw continues to impress off the bench. Keith Smart is obviously a genius for hiding him on the bench so that a good coach would look like a genius for playing him. Tyreke Watch After a rough start to the season, Tyreke’s begun to come around in Monty Williams’s system as the second man off the bench in New Orleans. Season Stats: 24.6 mpg, 10.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1 spg, .4 bpg Today’s Game After a tough loss, this quick turnaround is going to really test the character of the team. Is it a strong-willed band of fighters and scrappers or simply another collection of has-beens and never-weres? Were someone like Keith Smart still coaching the team, I’d wholly expect the Kings to lay a big fat egg tonight. But as we appear to have an actual coach now, I’m really not sure what to expect. Coached by Mark D’Antoni, this year’s bunch of Lakers are a complete 180 from the talent-laden teams of years past. With Kobe sidelined by an Achilles tear and Dwight trading in the salads and rabbit food of Beverly Hills for the smoked brisket and barbeque of Houston, this is pretty much the NBA equivalent of a thrift shop, a mish-mash band of aging former stars (Steve Nash and Pau Gasol), former draft busts (Wes Johnson and Jordan Hill), one dimensional shotchuckers (Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Xavier Henry), and an assortment of random players strung together to simply fill out a roster (Robert Sacre and company). Since this is a Mike D’Antoni team, the Lakers game plan is simply to outscore their opponent, defense be damned. As such, they are giving up 103 points per game while scoring 99.6. If Keith Smart was a worshipper at the church of smallball, D’Antoni is an altar boy. With Steve Nash out due to being old, Steve “Ugly Alex Smith” Blake is manning the point for the diminished team and there honestly has not really been a drop off in quality between the multi-time MVP and the guy whose main role in years past was to generally stand around the three-point line and try not to get in Kobe’s way. In other words, Steve Nash is a shadow of his former self and at this point Steve Blake is just as good as him. In the frontcourt, the Lakers run a three man rotation of Pau (old but still crafty), Hill (younger and scrappy), and Chris Kaman (old and ugly). No longer being crowded by Dwight’s offensive limitations, Gasol has reemerged as the steadying alphadog of the Lakers team to the tune of 13.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 blocks in 29.9 minutes per game. Having lost a lot of lateral quickness, it will be interesting to see whether or not he winds up being forced to guard the agile and equally crafty Demarcus Cousins. After a rough start to his career, Jordan Hill seems to have finally found a home in LA as the starting power forward for the Lakers. Sporting the most impressive dreadlocks this side of Mikki Moore, Hill kind of plays like how we’d all like Jason Thompson to be. Match-ups Demarcus versus Pau: Old Pouty Face against one of the best big men in the league. I’ll let you sort out who is who. Slamson versus the Lakers Mascot: No idea if they have one but if they did, I bet Slamson would give it the good old Doug Christie Special right in the kisser. The Lakers versus mediocrity: Chris Kaman is probably the wandering harbinger of yawn-worthiness. The refs versus the Kings: The refs win. Predictions and Closure After a tough loss, this quick turnaround is going to really test the character of the team. Is it a strong-willed band of fighters and scrappers or simply another collection of has-beens and never-weres? I’m going to put my faith in the Kings here and say they pull off the win against the lesser of the Los Angeles teams, 95 to 87.