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Reply To: NBA • Thursday Service Plays • 1/7/16

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Preview: L.A. Lakers At Sacramento

When: 10:30 PM ET, Thursday, January 7, 2016
Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, California

Kobe Bryant was just beginning to hit superstar status when the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings were engaged in a contentious rivalry. Bryant is hoping to make a return to the court when he visits Sacramento for the final time in his career on Thursday.

Bryant sat out the last three games with shoulder soreness but coach Byron Scott is cautiously optimistic that he will be available to play in the Lakers’ last trip to visit the Kings this season. Los Angeles, which dropped a 132-114 decision at Sacramento despite 13 points from Bryant on Oct. 30, had a season-high three-game winning streak come to an end with a 109-88 home loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. The Kings narrowly missed a third straight win with a 117-116 double-overtime loss at Dallas on Tuesday. “I think it was an incredible game,” Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins told reporters. “Both teams left it on the floor. We don’t want to make any excuses. … It just shows the potential that’s there. Credit to those guys for coming in and stepping up.”

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE LAKERS (8-28): Los Angeles is averaging 92.7 points in the three games Bryant has missed of late and could use more scoring from forward Julius Randle, whose maturity was called into question by Scott earlier in the week. Randle managed a total of four points on 1-of-12 shooting in the last two contests after hitting double figures in each of the previous three. Randle recorded three points on 1-of-4 shooting, five turnovers and five personal fouls in the first trip to Sacramento on Oct. 30.

ABOUT THE KINGS (14-21): Sacramento was down on itself after closing out December with a home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers but has looked like a different team in the new year. The Kings opened January with a 142-119 win over Phoenix before coming from behind to earn the franchise’s first ever win at Oklahoma City on Monday and fighting Dallas to the final buzzer on Tuesday. “This road trip I think we’ll remember that we’re coming together in a good way,” coach George Karl told reporters. “But just disappointed not to have two wins instead of one. The only thing I can complain about is the outcome of the (Dallas) game.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Lakers G Jordan Clarkson is averaging 19.5 points in the last four games.

2. Cousins is averaging 33.3 points and 15 rebounds in the last three games.

3. Sacramento G Rajon Rondo (back) sat out Tuesday and is day-to-day.

PREDICTION: Kings 113, Lakers 101