Kobe Bryant did not travel to Sacramento with the Los Angeles Lakers, so Bryant’s return talk will be halted for the moment. Friday night, the Lakers are in the state’s capital, and the 19th game of the season is at hand. Over a month into the season, the Lakers are through over a fifth of their 82-game schedule.
The Sacramento Kings already took a trip south to play LA four games earlier, and the Lakers ran away with the game behind strong efforts from Pau Gasol and Xavier Henry. In that game, DeMarcus Cousins was effectively silenced and only scored 17 points on 6-14 shooting. Also, Cousins was out-rebounded by both Gasol and Jordan Hill on the night, as LA did not allow any Kings to pull down double-digit rebounds.
Steve Blake put on a fine performance in that game with 12 assists, but the Lakers' point guard has been racking up a healthy number of turnovers lately. In his last two games, Blake turned the ball over eight times.
Apart from Blake, the Lakers do not have any true point guards available on the roster. Henry played a hybrid shooting-point guard in the fourth quarter against Portland, and he expects to take on that role again on Friday night.
When asked about playing point guard during this week’s practice, Henry talked about the transition.
“Now, instead of them putting me in a spot where I get [the ball] and attack, just go to the hole…now, I’m starting that way, so first, you have to get people their shots,” he said. “But you just take what the defense gives you, so it’s not that big of a change.”
With Jordan Farmar out for a month, the Lakers’ 10-man rotation should be reduced to a nine-man rotation until Bryant returns. Robert Sacre played 24 minutes against Portland and scored career-highs in points, rebounds and assists. He also added three block shots in an impressive outing.
Although Sacre should not be receiving “MVP” chants on Friday night, the game against the Kings should be a test to see if the Canadian 7-footer can consistently provide something off the bench.
A win on Friday would give the Bryant-less Lakers a winning record. With Bryant returning on Sunday—which has been confirmed—a win in Sacramento would further serve to remind Bryant that he has depth on his side.