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December 27, 2011
Kings-Blazers: Five things to watch

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Kings look to open the season 2-0 tonight after Monday night's win at Power Balance Pavilion over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here are five things for the Kings to watch for against the Portland Trail Blazers:

1. Stay hitched to the Chuckwagon
The Kings were noticeably more intense on defense than they were much of last season. A lot of credit for that goes to Chuck Hayes, who has already become the Kings' defensive leader. Hayes' impact shouldn't be measured simply by his statistics. His ability to get his teammates to stay tough is invaluable.

2. Inside scoring
The Kings were outscored 44-30 in the paint Monday night in beating the Lakers. The Kings still won by making 9-of-18 three pointers to overcome 15-of-35 shooting in the paint. The Kings won't be that hot on threes every night so the inside game has to continue to improve.

3. Free throw woes
Three-point shooting also covered up the Kings shooting 60 percent on free throws (21-of-35). That also must improve.

4. Balance on offense
Five Kings took at least eight shots against the Lakers. Only three - John Salmons (14), Tyreke Evans (13) and Marcus Thornton (13) were in double digits in attempts.

5. Ball security
The Kings had 12 turnovers against the Lakers. If they can stay in that range, the Kings will have a chance to win tonight.



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