A famous sports slogan against a California city could get a lot of run over the next five days.
The Kings’ final three games to close the calendar year are against the two Los Angeles teams, beginning with Wednesday night’s contest against the Clippers, a 127-118 loss at Staples Center.
The Kings (18-15) will fly home to face the Lakers on Thursday night, then return to Los Angeles for another game with the Lakers on Sunday.
Cue the “Beat L.A.” chants.
The slogan, believed to be created by NBA fans on the East Coast in the early 1980s, has become commonplace at sporting venues when the opposition is facing a team from the Southern California city.
The Kings have not beaten L.A. this season, losing twice to the Clippers and once to the Lakers.
LeBron James scored 25 points to lead the Lakers (20-14) to a 101-86 victory Nov. 10, a night when smoke from the Camp Fire was an issue inside the arena.
“I had a slight headache before the game,” James said after the win. “I can’t pinpoint any other reason why it was going on besides the smoke. But, it went away after the game started.”
James won’t appear in the Lakers’ last trip to Sacramento this season. The 14-time All-Star strained his left groin on Christmas Day during a 127-101 road victory over the Golden State Warriors. Despite the team saying his MRI was clean, James will not travel for Thursday’s game.
He tweeted that he “dodged a bullet” and is listed as day-to-day.
The Kings fell to the Clippers (19-14) on Nov. 29 in the team’s only TNT game so far this season despite a career-high 26 points from Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Sacramento also has games in L.A. on Jan. 27 (Clippers) and March 24 (Lakers), and the Clippers return to Golden 1 Center on March 1.
While scheduling the Kings to play in Los Angeles, head home the next night for a game and return to L.A. just days later might seem odd to fans, it’s nothing new in the NBA.
Previously scheduled events at a team’s home venue, such as concerts or games for a team that shares an arena, can be a factor. In this case, the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL play at Staples Center on Thursday. The NHL season begins a few weeks before the NBA and that league’s 2018-19 schedule was revealed in June, more than a month and a half before the NBA’s slate was announced.
What the NBA has recently done differently than years past is begin its season earlier to help reduce the number of back-to-backs. This season, the Kings have 14 such instances, two fewer than last season. Thursday’s game will cap Sacramento’s eighth this season, and this will be the second time they face the Lakers on the second night.
Should the Kings beat L.A. at least once before 2018 ends, they will enter January with a winning record for the first time since 2004-05, when they were 18-9.