It all started exactly one week ago, the Lakers’ longest losing streak since 2007 began on Friday, November 26th, 2010.
The next four games were played with limited defense and poor offensive execution—which led to losses in all of the games. Tonight the Lakers will finally return home, looking to snap their losing skid. The 4-12 Sacramento Kings have struggled this season; however, the Lakers are known to underestimate their opponents. The Lakers cannot afford to lose this game in front of the Los Angeles Faithful, or else the panic button will be needed. Kobe Bryant and Company must not rely solely on their talent, as hard-work can easily trump a star-studded roster.
The Lakers got an early break in the game when Kings’ sophomore sensation Tyreke Evans left the action due to an apparent injury. However, despite the loss of Evans, the Lakers could not take advantage of the Kings’ lack of star power. Five minutes into the game the Kings were shooting 83%, and were leading by one point, 11-10.
Luckily for the Kings, Evans returned later in the quarter after banging knees with another player. However for some reason, the Kings were having difficulties setting up their offense even with their star on the floor. The Lakers were playing great defense and their offense was a balanced attack with limited isolation. The Lakers ended the first quarter on a 13-5 run to take a 21-16 lead. Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom both had six points, but their defense forced the Kings to shoot under 40% in the opening period.
Hoping to get a spark of energy and consistent offense, Phil Jackson started the second quarter with the “Killer Bs” on the floor. Albeit Shannon Brown was not finding his shots outside the three-point line, he attacked the basket and was getting easy shots on nearly every possession. The Lakers were also very aggressive on the defense end, and as a result they forced many turnovers. With 9:04 left in the half, the Lakers expanded their lead to double digits and were leading 31-21.
It seemed as though the Lakers regained their confidence and their championship swagger. The team’s defense was on point, and they were capitalizing on the Kings’ mistakes. Most importantly, the Lakers’ offense was not centered on Kobe. During the four-game losing streak, the Lakers would allow Kobe to call an isolation play on nearly every possession. However, tonight the Lakers were playing a balanced offense and most of the points were the result of solid execution and fast-break hoops.
The first half concluded with the Lakers leading the Kings by 17, 52-35; the Lakers’ leading scorer was Kobe Bryant with 14 points. The Lakers shot 50% from the field and forced a total of 11 turnovers.
The Lakers did not lost any momentum or focus in the third quarter, they were aggressive on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. The Lakers eventually expanded their lead to 20, 56-36, with 9:40 left in the third.
“Domination” was the only word that could describe the Lakers’ play in the third quarter; they played intense defense and controlled the pace of the game. The world champions showed no mercy, and did not let their effort fall at any point of the quarter. At the 5:30 mark of the third, the Lakers were leading the Kings 70-42.
Surprisingly, Phil Jackson kept his stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol on the court despite a 30-point lead in the quarter. The period ended with the Lakers well ahead by 30, 82-52; for the first time in four-games, the Lakers entered the fourth quarter with a commanding lead.
All of the Lakers’ starters, with the exception of Ron Artest, were on the bench to start the fourth quarter. The game was sealed shut before the fourth quarter had even started. The only reason to stay up and watch the game at that point was to find out the final margin of victory.
The Lakers’ rookies got some valuable playing time in the fourth quarter, and they played an impressive game. Caracter was very active on the defensive end in the fourth quarter, and he grabbed nearly every rebound that came in his area. As for Devin Ebanks he got out in the open court, and finished almost every shot near the basket.
The Lakers eventually winded out the clock and finally snapped their four-game losing skid. They beat the Sacramento Kings in dominating fashion by 33 points, 113-80. The Lakers leading scorers were Kobe Bryant with 22 points and Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol with 16 points each.
The Los Angeles Lakers improved to 14-6, and will now have three full days off until they host John Wall and the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.