Pau Gasol, essentially the only big man on the Lakers squad as of right now, had a terrible first half as he only had one bucket. The only score that he had came toward the end of the second quarter off a nice assist from Bryant. If the Lakers are going to be considered title contenders this season, Pau will need to step up and prove his value to the team by scoring more and being a beast on the glass.
The Lakers handled the basketball much more comfortably as they only had a total of 11 turnovers for the entire game. The turnover statistic proved to be one of their weakest areas during the pre-season and during the Christmas Day game, so this improvement was promising.
Even though MWP had a great quarter, the Kings kept finding open looks and making easy shots. Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette dominated the floor as they combined for 10 points in the second quarter. Evans is clearly the leader of this young Kings group and he demonstrated his amazing skills with 20 points, two rebounds, and two assists.
Evans had a great game last night, but Marcus Thornton was able to have an even bigger night with 27 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Thornton has proved to be a killer of the Lakers in the past, as he was able to post 33 points in the Kings’ season finale last season against the Lakers.
Evans led the Kings to a nine-point advantage at the end of the first half as he scored a very easy layup with 5.6 seconds left on the clock. The Kings did not settle for the perimeter shots as they kept driving the ball down the lane. Bryant made a bad decision at the end of the second quarter with an impossible shot from half-court. The Lakers kept on struggling to find a smooth offensive flow as the Kings led the game 49 – 40 after two quarters.
The Kings continued their dominance in the second half as DeMarcus Cousins started the third quarter with an uncontested shot under the basket. Cousins was able to post a double-double with a total of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Cousins struggled most of the night in terms of fouls, but he was able to show his frustration with a monstrous put-back slam with a missed shot from Fredette. Cousins showed some improvement on his mid-range game as he was able to make a long mid-range jumper during the third.
During a Lakers fast-break in the third quarter, Bryant showed signs of his youth as he capitalized on a monster alley-oop slam from Devin Ebanks. Bryant looked to pick up his speed during the quarter as he aimed to make shots, but he picked up a technical foul as he showed his frustration after a missed dunk.
Next Page: Fourth quarter comeback and meltdown