After losing 109-97 at home to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers (5-4) traveled to Sacramento for the first game of a three-game road trip. L.A. looked to the give the Kings (4-5) its second loss inside the Golden 1 Center, the team’s new arena.
This season has obviously been a learning experience for the new generation in L.A. The team has had some big wins, but has also had some disappointing performances, particularly in their most recent showing against the Dallas Mavericks.
Here’s a recap from tonight’s game against the Kings.
The Lakers began the game with the usual starters: D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Luol Deng, Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov. They drew first blood as Young drove and fed Mozgov for an easy bucket. Shortly after, DeMarcus Cousins scored five points after hitting a Dirk Nowitzki-like shot over Deng followed by a corner three. Another Cousins bucket and an Arron Afflalo three led Luke Walton to call his first timeout of the game with his team trailing, 19-11.
After the timeout, a Ty Lawson bucket would extend the Kings’ lead to 10. Russell snapped the Kings’ 9-0 run with a 3-pointer. The bench unit entered the game in hopes of cutting the team’s deficit and rookie Brandon Ingram scored his first two points of the game.
The Lakers struggled to make baskets, shooting 7-for-19 from the field and 2-for-10 from behind the arc. The Kings also ended the quarter on an 18-5 run, and led 30-16 after one.
The Lakers came out a bit more aggressive in the second and a three by Lou Williams would get the Lakers’ deficit to nine. At the 9:11 mark, the Lakers had seven turnovers and the Kings capitalized, scoring 11 points off turnovers.
Lou Williams began to get going offensively but so did DeMarcus Cousins when he re-entered the game. With Mozgov on the bench, Larry Nance Jr was assigned the task and there was no answer for Cousins’ physicality. It didn’t matter who was in front of Cousins — he was still getting to the cup. The Lakers continued to struggle on both ends of the floor and Walton called another timeout after a Kings fast break that gave the Kings a 42-28 lead.
The Lakers, again, came out flat after the timeout and the Kings put on a fast break clinic, forcing Walton to call yet another timeout. Despite how bad the Lakers played the whole first half (trailing by as much as 19), the game was still within a 15 points as the half wound down. Russell and Randle started to score, but could never cut the lead to single digits.
A terrible foul by Cousins allowed Randle sank three free throws with 1.2 seconds and the Kings led at the half, 55-45. Randle was the Lakers’ leading scorer with 11 points. The Kings had two players in double figures — DeMarcus Cousins (18) and Rudy Gay (10).
Nick Young started the second half with a 3-pointer and Russell scored a layup on the ensuing play to cut the deficit to seven. Another Young three cut the lead down to five as Kings head coach Dave Joerger called a timeout.
Russell used his size advantage against Lawson, scoring in the post every opportunity he had. But again, the Lakers had difficulty getting stops on defense. The five-point lead quickly turned to 10 after a Rudy Gay bucket on Ingram in the post.
Nance Jr, who missed the last game after suffering a concussion on Sunday against Phoenix, had a dunk in the lane off a steal and a Jordan Clarkson triple cut the deficit to three. A Cauley-Stein tip-dunk would end the Lakers’ 7-0 run.
Tarik Black got a tip-in at the buzzer after a missed corner 3-pointer from Nance and the Lakers trailed by three, 73-70, heading into the fourth.
Black scored to start the quarter and a Lou Williams floater gave the Lakers its first lead since it was 6-5 in the first quarter. Williams scored another layup to push the Lakers’ lead to five.
After going scoreless in the third, Cousins hit a three to tie the game at 80. Cousins then had a driving layup and started to get it going on the offensive end. The bench unit continued to be valuable for the Lakers and Williams, the bench’s best pure scorer, hit a corner three and the Lakers led 87-82 at the 5-minute mark.
After the commercial break, Nick Young got the shooter’s bounce on the three and the Lakers had their first double-digit lead of the game, 92-82. Cousins continue to show why he’s regarded as one of the top centers in the NBA who can play inside-out, completed the three-point play after maneuvering his way to the basket to cut the deficit to five.
Lou Williams, who’s notorious for creating contact going left, was fouled on a drive and made the free throw to put the Lakers up 97-91 to ice the game. He finished the night off with 21 points. D’Angelo Russell (17), Nick Young (16), Julius Randle (15) and Timofey Mozgov (10) were the other Lakers who finished in double digits.
Final: Lakers 101, Kings 91