By: Brandon Rosenthal | December 31, 2018
For the second time in four days, the Los Angeles Lakers squared off against their long-time rival, the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers had lost two straight after their blowout win against the Warriors on Christmas Day and were looking to snap that losing streak. The Lakers welcomed JaVale McGee back into the starting lineup after missing the previous seven games with an illness (Lakers went 2-5 during that stretch).
The game started off with both teams being aggressive early and often. Both teams are familiar with each other at this point and were not shy. Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Iman Shumpert scored six points each, showing balanced scoring from the starters. Josh Hart led the way for the Lakers, scoring 10 points in a back-and-forth first quarter. The Lakers were able to pull away in the final few minutes thanks threes by Lance Stephenson and KCP, leading 37-31 after one. In the second quarter, Bogdan Bogdanovic reminded Lakers fans how good he is. Boggy scored 12 of his 14 points in the second, hitting deep threes and driving to the basket for buckets. De’Aaaron Fox also had a fantastic second quarter, creating for himself and others, finishing the half with 14 points and 6 assists. Josh Hart continued to play well for the Lakers, scoring five more points to get his total up to 17, while playing solid defense … most of the time. Hart is aggressive on defense, but on occasion makes a stupid play … usually resulting in a foul. Once he works on that, he has All-Defensive Team potential. Defense was not the focal point of either team and at the half, the Kings led 68-64.
The second half began a JaVale McGee alley-oop, but the Kings scored five straight to extend the lead back up to five. The Lakers and Kings traded buckets for few minutes before the Kings bench extended the lead to eleven, 85-74 with 5:35 left in the 3rd. KCP started to get going. He hit a cutting layup to cut the lead to 9, then hit a three, got fouled, and made the free throw, completing the four-point play. The Kings shooting got cold, and KCP hit another three, tying the game at 85 with 3:36 left in the 3rd. Kuzma hit a three to give the Lakers the lead, 89-88, but then Bogdanovic took over. He hit a running floater, dished to Josh Jackson for a three, and then hit a three-pointer of his, giving Sacramento a four-point after three, 96-92.
Buddy Hield hit a three to start the fourth, extending the Kings lead to seven. After a McGee dunk/Fox layup sequence, Lonzo hit a three, followed by a KCP three, cutting the Kings lead to 1, 100-101. The Kings answered back, with Fox hitting a pull-up jumper (got fouled, made FT), getting the lead back up to five. Ingram hit a jumper to answer, but Fox continued to put the pressure on LA, hitting another jumper with 4:30 left, pushing the Kings lead to seven, 110-103. All Lakers fans let out a collective groan as the Lakers trailed another game in the fourth without LeBron. Then the Lakers gave the fans a reason to cheer. Kuzma hit a three, then Ingram hit back-to-back buckets, tying the game at 110. Ingram continued his clutch shooting, hitting a three to give the Lakers the lead 113-110, with 2:13 left. After the Kings missed a three, the Lakers scored quickly (KCP again), pushing the lead to five. Shumpert hit a crazy layup between two Lakers defenders, but Josh Hart answered with a layup of his own over Fox. KCP and Kuzma hit some free throws to seal it … Lakers win 121-114. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers in scoring with 26 points (9-21 FG, 5-13 3PT) in 28 minutes off the bench.
The Lakers improve to 21-14 and move up to 6th in the West. The Lakers improve their home record to 13-6 and improve to 1-2 without LeBron James. The Kings fall to 19-17, 9th in the West. The Lakers are off until January 2nd when the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-13) come to town.
* = Starter
- Brandon Ingram scored 21 points (9-13 FG, 1-3 3PT), grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 9 assists in a fantastic all-around game.
- Josh Hart scored 17 of his 22 in the first half
- Kyle Kuzma didn’t have a great shooting day (5-17 FG) but he had a nice all-around game as well: 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists.
- Lance Stephenson only played 8 minutes but scored 7 points. I’d like to see more of Lance in the future.
- JaVale McGee returned to action after missing seven games, grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 8 points.
- The Lakers continued to struggle at the charity stripe, shooting 60% (12-20) for the game.