Byron Scott decided to change the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Pelicans after 20 regular season games. Although the starting five was different, the result of the game was the same as the Lakers lost their third straight.
The Lakers went into Tuesday with a 5-16 record, near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They would be playing a Sacramento Kings team that without its star, Demarcus Cousins, who is battling illness. The 11-10 Kings have played well despite the absence of Cousins.
Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant is just 63 points away from tying Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list. Kobe is averaging 25.2 points per contest. He would look to be aggressive early while still getting acquainted with the recent lineup changes.
Ronnie Price and Ed Davis would have to make significant contributions if the Lakers were going to be able to keep up with the fast paced Kings.
The Lakers started off with a poor series on defense, allowing Rudy Gay to hit a wide open jumper. Rebounding was an issue early on, as the Lakers gave up four straight points to second chance opportunities. Kobe stopped the scoring drought knocking down a long two from the outside. Price found Ed Davis down low for a layup and Jordan Hill got a dunk as the Lakers tied the game and converted on improved offensive possessions. Wes Johnson hit his first shot in four attempts and blocked Gay on the other end to cause the turnover. That lead to a patented Kobe shake-and-bake fade-away on the left baseline. Davis powered up for a huge dunk, but the Lakers had trouble connecting from the field as the Kings jumped out to a 18-12 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. However, Kobe remained in attack mode and scored a bucket inside and drawing a foul for a chance at a three-point play. He would hit the free throw for his seventh point of the quarter. Kobe would find Boozer inside for a layup and Kobe would go to the line to add two more free throws, but the Kings continued to score at will. After a run by Sacramento, Nick Young hit his first bucket of the game on a long three in which he was fouled. He converted on the four-point play as the quarter would come to an end with the score 29-24.
Boozer opened the second period with a fade-away jumper and Young hit a two after a series of moves to put the Lakers within one point. Wayne Ellington knocked down a long outside shot to cap a 10-0 run as the Lakers took the lead early in the quarter.The Kings scored on consecutive possessions, but Robert Sacre and Boozer would score four straight Lakers points. With seven minutes left, Young made a great move towards the cup and finished on a left handed layup to make the score 37-35 in favor of the Lakers. A Davis free throw put the Lakers within one, as the starters struggled to score towards the end of the period. The Kings went on a 10-1 run with two minutes left in the half. Kobe was 3-12 from the field at this point as no Laker was in double figures to that point in the game. Ben McLemore would knock down two straight threes, but Price sparked the Lakers with his passing finding Davis for a dunk and leading the break for a Kobe finish. The Lakers woes continued as the score was 55-46 going into the half.
Kobe came out firing on his 14th shot attempt of the game. He would hit on the in-rhythm jumper. Hill scored on an inside shot, but the Lakers still trailed by seven as the offense tried to find some consistency. Johnson made an attempt to put the game within his hands by scoring on five straight points to put the Lakers within four. The Lakers came out of a Kings timeout running a zone defense, but the Kings would exploit that by scoring on two consecutive threes. The Lakers trailed by 12 before Kobe knocked down a long jumper and drew the foul. He would connect on a free throw for his 16th point of the game. Kobe began to establish a rhythm in the ball game and drove to the lane before finding Price for a layup to narrow the gap to seven. Kobe scored another long two and then tested how hot he was by pulling up and making a long three-pointer. Kobe’s 12th point of the quarter put the Lakers within two. Both teams would go back and forth with four minutes remaining in the quarter. Young scored on two jumpers and Davis finished an alley-oop from Jeremy Lin as the score was 75-75. The Kings would score four straight points as Lin drove into the lane and drew a foul. He would hit one free throw and Sacre would score inside, but Collison hit a bucket inside to make the score 81-78 as the third period ended.
The fourth quarter started off slowly as there was only one made field goal by both teams in the first 90 seconds. But, Collison would score his 21st point to put the Kings up by seven with 10 minutes left in the game. Out of the timeout, Boozer hit a jumper but the Kings would respond with a shot of their own. Halfway through the quarter the score was 88-82 as Kobe checked in for Lin to take over point guard responsibilities. Kobe took control of the offense and found Boozer inside for a layup and then Johnson for an open three to cut the margin to one. The Lakers created a turnover after two Rudy Gay free throws that lead to a Kobe dunk on a fast break. Collison responded with a jumper but Kobe hit his 28th point on a three to tie the game with two minutes left. Collison split a pair of free throws, but a beautiful Kobe assist to Hill gave the Lakers a one point lead. The Lakers couldn’t build on that lead and Collison again attacked with a reverse layup to put Sacramento back ahead by a point. Kobe was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit both free throws to put the Lakers back ahead by one with 34 seconds left. The Lakers dodged a bullet as Gay had a wide open three but missed it. Kobe hit two free throws and Stauskas missed a tying three as the Lakers got the win 98-95.[divide]
VIDEO: Ed Davis Talks About Adjusting To His Role In The Starting Lineup