The Los Angeles Lakers hope the preseason is no indication of their 2012-13 campaign.
L.A. is still without a win in seven exhibition games, and gets its last chance to avoid going winless on Thursday night. For the third time in a week, the Lakers will play the Kings. Sacramento won the two previous matchups by a combined 12 points.
The last time they faced each other, on Sunday, Dwight Howard made his debut in the purple and gold. In his first action since April, Howard looked like he hadn’t missed a step. He scored 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked four shots in 33 minutes.
Howard might not get a chance to duplicate his one preseason performance. Recovering from back surgery, he felt sore on Monday and Tuesday, forcing him to sit out Wednesday’s contest against the Clippers. It’s unknown whether or not Howard will be good to go in the final exhibition game of 2012.
Kobe Bryant will certainly be sidelined. He’s sitting out his second straight game with a right foot strain. There’s a chance the shooting guard won’t be ready for the season opener on Oct.30, and he’ll be re-evaluated over the weekend.
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The Kings have won four of their six preseason games this year. This is also their final tune-up before the regular season.
DeMarcus Cousins will look to take advantage of Howard’s back issues. The big man is averaging 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per exhibition contest.
It’s Jimmer Fredette’s last chance to prove that he’s earned more playing time in his second NBA season. He averaged 7.6 points per game on 38.6 percent shooting in 61 games last year. He’s improved on both numbers this preseason.
The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. PT in San Diego. If you live in the L.A area, you can watch the contest on TV live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
Betting Line: Los Angeles-3, 194.5
Prediction: The Lakers haven’t seemed to care about the results of preseason games up to this point, so don’t expect them to start on Thursday night. With Bryant on the bench, and possibly Howard too, the Kings should go to 5-2.
Predicted Score: Sacramento 101, Los Angeles 92