The Los Angeles Lakers played their second game since the All-Star break and hoped to continue the winning streak after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers were 15-2 at home before taking on the Kings and they looked to keep up their home cooking.
The Los Angeles Lakers had a slow start to the game and were having trouble controlling the Kings’ speed. A little over three minutes in the game, the Lakers were shooting 2-8 from the field and were trailing 5-10. Los Angeles big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were not getting their shots in the paint and were instead playing catch-up with the athletic Sacramento front-court.
After the time-out, the Lakers got back to playing their game and Kobe Bryant was more assertive on the offensive end. Bryant was taking advantage of the defensively challenged Marcus Thornton, and with 5:21 left in the period, the Lakers knotted the score at 15. Kobe had 11 early points and began the game shooting four-for-six.
The Lakers slowly started to assert their dominance on the offense end as Kobe thrived against the defense and the big men were having their way in the paint. However, the team was having trouble stopping the Kings on the other end and could not put together a large enough run.
At the end of the first period, the Lakers held a mere 31-26 lead. Kobe Bryant led the way with 13 early points, and Gasol and Bynum poured in eight and six respectively.
Rookie Andrew Goudelock began the second quarter extremely well and was giving the coaching staff some great minutes with Kobe on the bench. The Lakers had only one starter on the floor to begin the period, but with 9:44 remaining in the period, they held a 41-32 lead. Goudelock put in an early nine points on four-for-four shooting.
The offense was running smoothly for the Lakers in the first part of the quarter, but the team was having trouble getting stops on the other end of the court. Bynum and Goudelock were playing extremely well with the ball in their hands, but the Kings were getting their way too. Despite all the hot shooting and dominance of Bynum in the paint, the Lakers were only up 44-38 with 6:25 left in the half.
The Lakers could not put together a big enough run to expand the lead and allowed the Kings to stay in the game. The Kings were matching the Lakers’ every move and the Lakers could not stop them on the defensive end. There were glimpses of greatness for Los Angeles, but it was tough for the team to create some breathing room from the Kings.
However, the Lakers made a strong push in the final minutes of the half and opened up their lead. After 24 minutes of play, Los Angeles was ahead 65-58 and Kobe was leading the charge with 20 points on a very efficient scoring night.
The Lakers opened the second half hot and were once again hitting their shots on the offensive end. Bryant was continuing to connect on his outside jumpers and the Lakers’ seven-footers were having their way with the fairly smaller Kings front-court. At the 8:37 mark of the third quarter, the Lakers held a 73-63 lead with Kobe ahead with 24 points and six rebounds.
The Lakers slowly started to control momentum and were beginning to separate themselves from the Kings. Los Angeles was dominating both ends of the court and the seven footers were intimidating the Kings on both sides of the ball. With 6:39 left in the third period, the Lakers had an 11 point lead, 77-66.
The Kings could not get enough going to cut into the Lakers’ lead and Los Angeles was firing on all cylinders which made Sacramento’s attempt much tougher. The Lakers were finding success on nearly every possession and the opponent had no answer for Kobe Bryant and his onslaught. Kobe was easily able to find his own shot or one for his teammate near the basket. At the 2:28 mark of the quarter, the Lakers opened up a 85-72 lead.
At the end of the third quarter, the Lakers held an 18 point lead, 92-74, with their leading scorer being Kobe Bryant who had 31 points on 11-18 shooting.
The Lakers had essentially won the game before the fourth quarter began and this was a great time for the coaching staff to try out different scenarios. Los Angeles had a stellar 27 point third period, and that helped the team expand its lead to 18.
However, the Lakers started off the quarter on the wrong foot and allowed the Kings to gain a little confidence. Sacramento opened the period on an 9-2 run and cut the lead down to 11 in just three minutes into the quarter.
The Lakers had their bench players in the game to start the fourth, but after their dismal performance, the coaching staff had to quickly bring in their starters. Los Angeles had an 18 point lead, but after the reserves allowed the Kings to gain a little momentum, the lead was down to nine, 94-85 with 7:44 left in the game.
The Kings continued on their run and were burning the Lakers from behind the three-point line. The once double-digit lead was brought down to five, 100-95, thanks to threes by John Salmons and Jimmer Fredette. With exactly five minutes remaining in the quarter, the Lakers had to battle with the young, confident Kings team for the victory.
Although the Lakers let a large lead slip away, the team made big plays in key moments of the game. The match was in its final minutes and the veteran squad understood what was needed to come away victorious. Los Angeles was making the buckets and stopping the Kings which in turn helped them take the lead for good.
Kobe Bryant was once again huge for the Lakers in the fourth and was hitting shots from every possible angle on the court. The Kings made it a game late, but Bryant proved why he is the best closer in the game.
As the final buzzer rang, the Lakers were ahead, 115-107. Kobe Bryant finished the night with 38 points on 13-24 shooting and eight rebounds to go with it. Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol both contributed 15 points and helped Kobe finish off the Kings in the final period.
The Lakers will be back in action on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. PST when they host the Miami Heat.