Toward the end of the third quarter, Troy Murphy and J.J. Hickson ran toward the backcourt for a loose ball. Each players’ running effort was a direct reflection of the team’s effort for the entire game, as Hickson beat Murphy to the ball and drew a foul.
The Lakers depended on their veteran bench at the end of the third quarter as Luke Walton and Matt Barnes graced the floor for the first time this season. Unfortunately, the Lakers bench was unable to help the starters as the Kings dominated them with an 11-4 run.
The Lakers seemed to be struggling with ending quarters as the Kings were able to have solid runs to end each of the first three quarters. The Kings had their largest lead of the night with 14 points at the end of the third quarter as they led 78-64.
The Lakers showed some great ball movement in the fourth quarter as Bryant was able to find Gasol on two alley-oop dunks, and another play where each Laker player touched the ball and ended with a simple layup from Barnes.
The Lakers defense improved during the fourth quarter because they were able to smother the Kings players and, as a result, the Kings were unable to find the bottom of the net. The Lakers were able to capitalize on these defensive stops by pushing the ball down the court for some fast-break points.
The Lakers were able to cut the Kings 14 point lead to two points at 89 – 87 with brilliant plays from Pau Gasol and World Peace. Gasol was playing the floor like a point guard as he kept finding open players in the paint for easy buckets. Most impressively was a quick bounce pass to Metta as he was able to cut through the paint for a nice layup.
Unfortunately, the Lakers fell apart at the end of the game as the Kings were able to keep the ball away from them during the last two minutes of regulation. There was a series in which the Kings were able to attempt six free throw attempts during the span of 15 seconds due to the hustle and speed of these youngsters.
The entire crowd at the Power Balance Pavilion was on their feet at the end of the fourth quarter, chanting “Beat L.A.” during the Kings’ free throw attempts. The Lakers walked out of the arena after losing 100 – 91 to the young Sacramento Kings, and it appears that they will need to find an answer to their offensive and defensive struggles fast if they want to be considered title contenders this year.