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Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game against Lakers

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Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game against Lakers

Fresh off a win in their preseason opener on Monday, the Sacramento Kings look to make it two in a row. They’ll take on LeBron James and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center Thursday evening.

It’s the first of a brutal back-to-back, featuring two of the heavy hitters in the Western Conference. Following the game in LA, the Kings will board a flight to the Pacific Northwest where they’ll face the Warriors at Key Arena for the first game played in Seattle in a decade. 

Here are three things to watch as the Kings attempt to improve to 2-0 during the preseason. 

Building confidence

It’s a continuing theme, but the Kings are a very young team. Whether it’s summer league or preseason, building a winning culture matters. 

A victory over the Suns is step one. Competing against teams like the Lakers and Warriors is another move in the right direction. Games count for real in a couple of weeks. It would be nice to see the team walk into the regular season with a little bit of confidence. 

Let the game slow down

Harry Giles III looked like a whirling dervish early in the game against Phoenix. He picked up two fouls early and rushed shots at the rim and from the perimeter. As the game continued, he started to settle in and make better decisions, which is huge for his growth. 

Marvin Bagley III struggled with the same issue in the Kings’ debut, but he never found his comfort level. The sooner Bagley has that moment, the better for Sacramento. He’s a high-end talent, but the game is moving way too fast right now. 

Who stops LeBron?

No one really has an answer to this question. For the last 15 years, James has been the best player on the planet. He’s a physical freak and he continues to adapt his game as he moves into the final phase of his career. 

If James is playing the small forward position, Justin Jackson will likely get a first look. If he’s playing the four, Dave Joerger is going to have to get creative. Giles and  Bagley both played the four in the opener, as did Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. None of them are natural matchups against James.

If the Lakers feature the 14-time All-Star, the Kings could be in for a long evening. 

How Tracy McGrady credits Kings' Doug Christie for success as rookie

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How Tracy McGrady credits Kings' Doug Christie for success as rookie

Tracy McGrady leaves behind an illustrious 14-season career with accolades including seven NBA All-Star and seven All-NBA selections, a two-time scoring champion as well as a Hall of Fame induction.

McGrady turned 41 on Sunday which was the perfect time to take a trip down memory lane to when he was just a rookie. He talked about how Kings legend Doug Christie played an instrumental role during the infancy of his run.

During a recent interview on “All the Smoke,” McGrady said a big part of his hot start as a rookie with the Toronto Raptors was all thanks in part of the matchups he had with former teammate Christie.

“I love Doug,” McGrady said. “I played Doug on one-on-one every day -- we were just going at each other -- and that’s how I was working on my one-on-one game and building my confidence up because I know he was a great defender, he was a hell of a defender.”

He was.

Christie earned three All-Defensive Second Team honors and was part of the First Team in 2003. McGrady was also one of the most difficult guys to cover -- he owes part of that to Christie. 

He's part of many who recently shouted him out.

[RELATED: Mike Bibby describes tenure with Kings as best time of his life]

For McGrady, he knew going up against one of the best in the game, he would be able to handle anything.

Appears that worked out beautifully. 

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Why Mike Bibby describes playing with Kings as best time of his life

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Why Mike Bibby describes playing with Kings as best time of his life

The Kings’ Mike Bibby era was iconic. 

His seven-season run with players like Chris Webber never will be forgotten for all the success Sacramento saw on the court.

Bibby sat down with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith and talked about his run with Sacramento -- a fit that was comfortable for Bibby right away. Even though trading for him meant bidding farewell to Jason Williams, a guy Kings fans were in love with. 

“The guys treated me like I was there for five, six, seven years," Bibby said. "I got there and Jason Williams was a prized possession in Sacramento and when I got traded for him, I just wanted to fit in, I didn’t know if the fans would like me or if the team would like me.

"In my first year we had the best record in the West. I had the best time of my life and my career playing in Sacramento with those guys. I think Sacramento is the best team I played on.”

Bibby detailed the trade, along with the special relationship he and Webber had throughout that stretch and how selfless the Kings were. It didn’t matter who scored, they were a strong team and wanted to win.

“That’s the way basketball is supposed to be played,” Bibby said. “That was the best time of my life -- being in Sacramento.”

[RELATED: Karl Malone admits Webber had more talent than him]

That was a time where the Kings gave the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers a run for their money. The Kings skated through the first two rounds of the playoffs, defeating the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks. That was all in Bibby’s first season. 

Across those seven seasons with the Kings, Bibby averaged 17.6 points and  3.2 rebounds per game. 

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]