NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 13th (All times eastern)
Sacramento Kings (25-56) at Los Angeles Lakers (56-24), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - With the top seed in the Western Conference all locked up and their first round playoff foe already decided, the Los Angeles Lakers hope to stay sharp for the NBA's postseason when they take on Sacramento tonight.
With little to play for the Lakers announced on Monday that superstar guard Kobe Bryant will not play in the team's final two regular season games due to an avulsion fracture in his right index finger.
Bryant, who is averaging 27 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game this season, will sit for tonight's game against the Kings and Wednesday's regular season finale at the Clippers. He will be joined on the sidelines by center Andrew Bynum, who continues to rest his strained left Achilles', as the Lakers prepare to face Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Lakers are coming off a tough 91-88 setback to playoff-bound Portland on Sunday when Martell Webster drilled three critical free throws with 3.1 seconds to play, and the Trail Blazers' defense held off LA's final attack in a 91-88 victory at Staples Center.
Pau Gasol had 23 points and 12 rebounds, but missed a potential game-tying three at the buzzer, as the Lakers lost for the third time in four games. Bryant had 20 points for the Lakers, while Lamar Odom posted 16 points and 15 boards.
"I haven't been shooting free throws very well," Bryant said. "I'm trying to brush up on them, change it up a little bit, and get it right for the playoffs."
The Kings, meanwhile, will finish their fourth straight losing season tonight after falling for the 10th time in 11 contests on Monday against Houston.
Ex-King Kevin Martin was successful in his return to Sacramento in that one, pouring in 39 points, as the Rockets took command in the fourth quarter and beat the Kings, 117-107, at ARCO Arena.
Martin was dealt to Houston in mid-February in a three-team deal with Carl Landry landing in Sacramento. Martin, a first-round draft pick of the Kings in 2004, had spent over five seasons in Sacramento until being traded.
Rookie Tyreke Evans ended with 24 points and six assists for the Kings, while Landry had 19 points. Evans joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game in their rookie seasons.
"Every player in our locker room is happy for Tyreke," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "He's such a great teammate and a selfless player. That's the trademark for this team as we go forward."
Sacramento also picked up Westphal's option for the 2011-12 season on Monday. The veteran coach originally signed a two-year deal with an option after Sacramento went a franchise-worst 17-65 last season.
The Lakers have won five straight over the Kings and will be attempting to sweep the season series tonight.
04/13 10:36:13 ET