Los Angeles Lakers vs Sacramento Kings – NBA Pick for Feb. 24th
The Lakers finally got Lonzo Ball back from his injury on Friday night, and he promptly helped lead them to a blowout win over the lowly Mavericks. L.A. is now a somewhat respectable 24-34 on the season, though they’re still well outside the race for the Western Conference playoffs. While Ball’s return was a boost, he’s not going to play in the second half of back-to-backs at first. That means he’ll be sidelined again tonight when the Lakers face the Kings in the California capital.
With Lonzo on the shelf, Luke Walton will likely continue to start rookie Josh Hart in the backcourt. Hart started over Ball on Friday night and still played 34 minutes. Isaiah Thomas will serve as the big-minute backup, but it’s a positive sign for Hart that Walton is willing to trust him so early in his career.
The real story for L.A. of late has been the play of Julius Randle. Randle spent the first half of the season seemingly in the doghouse. He struggled to crack a big-minute role in the rotation, but he’s recently been unleashed. With Larry Nance Jr. now in Cleveland, Randle is in the starting lineup and logging consistent minutes in the 30s. In 30 minutes against Dallas last night, the big man posted an 18-13-10 triple-double.
The Lakers are also finally starting to give a role to young center Ivica Zubac. Zubac played well at the end of last season, but this year he’s been limited to just 19 appearances. He’s played 18 and 20 in the last 2 games, respectively, and he’s responded well. Zubac has combined to put up 33 points on insane 14-15 shooting from the field. He’s got a long way to go defensively, but it’s clear he’s got some talent.
As for the Kings, they’re among the several teams battling it out for the league’s worst record. They enter tonight’s game at 18-40 following a narrow loss at home the other night against the Thunder. De’Aaron Fox was unable to suit up that night due to a bout with pink eye, and he’s listed as questionable to play tonight with the same malady.
If Fox is out again tonight, the Kings will roll with some combination of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Garrett Temple and Frank Mason III running point. Mason is the only true point guard on the roster in that scenario, but he’s still working his way back from an injury of his own. He saw just 14 minutes against OKC.
It’ll be fun to watch Randle battling with Zach Randolph tonight. Randolph was a popular comp for Randle when the latter came into the league a few years ago, and he’s still chugging along at the age of 36. The old man bullied his way to 29 points and 12 rebounds in helping the Kings keep it close against the Thunder.
Dave Joerger ran a 9-man rotation the other night, which is just about as tight a rotation as we’ve seen from Sacramento all year long. We can expect more of the same tonight if Fox can’t play.
The Lakers are playing the second night of a back-to-back, but they’re playing with the most confidence we’ve seen out of them all year long. The 1.5-point spread looks a little too tight. Sacramento looked plucky on Thursday, but they’re still arguably the worst team in the Western Conference.
This game looks like a good bet to go over on 222 points. If you’re feeling frisky, you can additionally take the Lakers to cover the spread on the road.
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