On Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Sacramento Kings in the state capital.
Sacramento's star player DeMarcus Cousins missed 10 games with viral meningitis, but the man they call "Boogie" returned to the court on Thursday to score 27 points and pull down 11 rebounds. In the era of 6-foot-10-inch and 6-foot-11-inch centers, Cousins is about as good as they come in the NBA these days.
Even with Cousins back and seemingly healthy, the Kings are in a strange period.
Prior to the talented big man's illness, the Kings were 9-6 and looking like a team headed for a push into the postseason. However, Cousins' 10 games away resulted in eight losses. After loss no. 7, the Kings fired Coach Michael Malone and named assistant Tyrone Corbin as an interim head coach.
Corbin previously spent three years in the big seat with the Utah Jazz, so this is not his first time as a head coach or playing against the Lakers. Corbin was in charge when Kobe Bryant gave Mike Brown the "Kobe death stare" in Utah.
Speaking of Bryant, he's been breaking his back early in the season. The 36-year-old leads the team in time on the court with 35.4 minutes per game. According to NBA.com's player tracking data, Bryant has run 58.7 miles over the first 26 games of the season, which means he averages 2.3 miles per game. Whether analyzing the total or the average, Bryant leads the team.
No wonder talk of Bryant's fatigue dominates seemingly every post game discussion.
With the added age and heavy minutes, Bryant's field goal percentage is down. Entering his 19th season, Bryant had never shot below the 41.7 percent for a season. Through 26 games, he's shooting 37.7 percent.
How poor is that?
Well, the only active Lakers player with a lower shooting percentage is Ronnie Price. Literally, every other player on the court has a higher percentage of making a shot. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, Bryant's tired legs only managed nine points and missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Afterwards, Bryant admitted his legs felts heavy, and Lakers coach Byron Scott regretted allowing Bryant to practice as much as he had in the days leading up to the game.
However, the NBA schedule offers redemption almost immediately, and Bryant is accustomed to bouncing back off poor performances.
The Lakers and Kings tip off at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.