Worst of the West battle as Kings visit Lakers

(SportsNetwork.com) - Bottom feeders in the Western Conference tip it off Friday night at Staples Center, as the Sacramento Kings visit the Pacific Division-rival Los Angeles Lakers.

The Kings are used to being on the road of late and currently are in the midst of playing 13 of 18 games away from home. They are 8-19 as the visitor and will open a seven-game trek next week.

Sacramento had won two in a row and three of four games until the Houston Rockets posted a 129-103 victory Tuesday night. The Rockets set the tone with a 42-17 advantage after the first quarter and the Kings did their best to make the score respectful. Rockets All-Star James Harden had 43 points.

The Rockets scored a Kings opponent season-high 129 points.

Rudy Gay led the Kings with 25 points, DeMarcus Cousins added 16 before being ejected and rookie Ben McLemore finished with 15 points. Cousins received two technical fouls early in the third quarter after he was called for a shooting foul against Dwight Howard and was ejected.

Cousins now has 15 technicals this season and is one away from receiving a one-game ban for excessive technical fouls. He was suspended one game for throwing a punch at Houston's Patrick Beverley and will serve it on Friday.

Isaiah Thomas posted 12 points versus the Rockets and was averaging 24.1 points in his previous eight games. He has started the last 39 games and is posting an average of 21.6 ppg in that span.

The Kings have two home games versus Minnesota and New Orleans on the upcoming docket after they visit the Lakers.

Los Angeles has lost three in a row and seven of its last eight games, and suffered a 108-103 loss at Memphis on Wednesday.

Jodie Meeks (19), Wesley Johnson (18), Pau Gasol (17), Jordan Farmar (16), Kent Bazemore (14) and MarShon Brooks (14) rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Lakers, who lost despite making 49.4 percent from the field and connecting on 15-of-28 3-pointers.

Johnson and Farmar both knocked down four 3-pointers in defeat.

"We can be a solid team," Farmar remarked. "We can compete every night to win. We're right there at the end of the game with a chance."

The Lakers are the worst team in the Western Conference and hope to have some reinforcements versus the Kings. Lakers guards Steve Nash (back), Nick Young (knee) and center Chris Kaman (back) are questionable Friday. Nash has missed the last six games.

Young played in a loss to Brooklyn on Sunday after missing several games. He once led the Lakers in scoring and is now averaging 16.8 ppg.

After hosting the Kings, L.A. will visit Portland Monday. The Lakers are 9-18 at home this season and just 1-9 in the previous 10 games as the host.

Los Angeles is 2-0 against Sacramento this season and the Pacific foes will meet one more time, on Apr. 2 in California's capital. The Lakers have won four in a row and 15 of the last 19 matchups with the Kings, losers in four straight, 10 of 11 and 13 of the last 16 games at the Lakers.