The (9-34) Los Angeles Lakers face the (17-23) Sacramento Kings at the Staples Center in the third game of their four game season series. The Lakers wasted a fast start (shot 74-percent from the field in the first quarter) and surprisingly competitive first half before the Rockets turned up the heat defensively, dropped a nine – 0 scoring run on the purple and gold to start the third quarter en route to a 22 point lead in a 112-95 victory. The Rockets sixth straight win against the Lakers sending the purple and gold into a three-game losing skid.
However, the game provided some positives, in addition to the accompanying and omnipresent negatives. As far as positives; Kobe Bryant had an assist on seven of the Lakers first 12 baskets, passed Lakers legend, NBA Hall of Famer, the logo, Jerry West (6,238), landing in second place on the Lakers all-time career assist list trailing only Magic Johnson (10,141). Also five Lakers scored in double-digits (Lou Williams 20, Jordan Clarkson 16, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle had 12 and Anthony Brown had 10 points). As far as negatives, the Rockets scored 50 or fewer points in the paint in their previous 11 games, but the Lakers surrendered 70.
The Lakers lost their last two games against the Kings, outscored by 62 points (337-275). As a matter of fact, in the Lakers last meeting with the Kings on January 6th at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento the purple and gold played one of their better games of the season. The purple and gold down 25-4 five minutes into the game; trailed by as many as 27 prior to mounting an epic comeback. The inspired Lakers posted a 38-point third quarter, outscored the Kings 29-16 in the fourth and led by one point after a tough D’Angelo Russell lay-up nearly completing the franchises third-biggest comeback, based on halftime deficit before falling 118-115.
In a tale of two halves of basketball, the Lakers outscored 69-48 in the first half, showed a lot or grit, determination as well as resolve outscoring the Kings 67-49 in the second half making the game a competitive contest. The Lakers had five players score in double digits (Kobe 28, D’Angelo Russell career-high 27, Lou Williams 20, Jordan Clarkson 15 and Brandon Bass 10), scored 44 points in the paint, turned 15 Kings turnovers into 24 points, shot 54.7-percent from the field and 86.2-percent from the charity stripe. L.A. allowed the Kings to score 64 points in the paint, shoot 55.3-percent from the field coupled with scoring 22 points off of their turnovers.
Offensively; the Lakers must limit their turnovers and run their offense efficiently utilizing moving, passing and cutting. The Lakers ball movement and player movement are essential to finding the open man, high percentage shots in addition to making the Kings’ defense work. Defensively, the purple and gold must communicate on defense, get back in transition, stop the dribble penetration of Rajon Rondo, surround both Demarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein and make them play in a crowd, quickly rotate out to open shooters, box their men out and rebound. The purple and gold need to challenge every shot and attempt to limit the Kings to one shot per possession in concert with limiting the impact of the Rajon Rondo getting everyone involved in the attack.
Lakers: L. Williams, J. Clarkson, K. Bryant, J. Randle, R. Hibbert
Kings: R. Rondo, B. McLemore, R. Gay, W. Cauley-Stein, D. Cousins
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
• Los Angeles: TWC Sportsnet (Bill MacDonald & Stu Lantz)
• Sacramento: Comcast Sportsnet California (Grant Napear & Jerry Reynolds)
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
• Sacramento : KHTK (Gary Gerould & Lafayette Lever)
• Kobe Bryant (Sore Right Achilles) Questionable
• Larry Nance Jr. (Sore Right Knee) Doubtful