For much of the first half, the Los Angeles Lakers looked like they were on their way to picking up a victory and getting back on the winning track against the Sacramento Kings.
But despite the efforts of LeBron James, Malik Monk and Austin Reaves, things went terribly wrong in the second half, and particularly the third quarter, as the Lakers fell 125-116 to the Kings.
The Lakers led by double-figures multiple times in the first half but failed to close out both the first and second quarters strong, allowing the Kings to remain much closer at the half. In the third quarter, the Kings completely jumped on the Lakers, outscoring them 40-23 to take a commanding lead. James and Reaves led a late charge for the Lakers, but it simply wasn’t enough.
Afterward, James spoke on the Lakers’ up-and-down season and in this game, the Kings’ tempo especially in that third quarter that overwhelmed the Lakers.
“It’s been an up-and-down season, that’s why we’re at .500. You go from the injuries to safety and health protocols and injuries and everything throughout the season so far,” James said. “We’re one of 30 teams that’s dealing with the same adversity, but our team is built on depth and for a majority of the season so far, we haven’t had that. But we’ve played some good ball I believe over the last few weeks if you take away the Memphis game, if you take away the third quarter tonight. Their tempo was just too much for us in the third quarter.”
The Lakers held a big advantage from 3-point range on the night and their work on the offensive glass helped create many extra possessions as well. But the Lakers’ defense was non-existent as Sacramento dominated in the paint on their way to 70 points in the paint. LeBron noted the Lakers’ failure to control dribble penetration as an issue as well.
“Their dribble penetration hurt us all night. We got to keep a body in front of their guards and their forwards, we couldn’t sustain it for 48 minutes.”
The Kings have been one of the top teams as far as scoring in the paint all season long and with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton leading the attack, it is an extremely difficult task to keep those guards out of the paint. But the Lakers offered basically no resistance for most of the night and it came back to bite them.
After two seasons of being arguably the best defensive team in the league, the Lakers have lost their identity and ability to contain guards getting into the paint. Even as the team finds some better ways to get their offense going, if they can’t get their defense together, they won’t come close to reaching their potential.
James believes Lakers will be much better in second half of the season
The Lakers have been basically a .500 team through the first half of the season, but James believes the team has shown signs of improvement over the past couple of weeks and that could lead to a much better stretch run.
“We want to continue to trend over the next 42. Like I said, the best thing about our ballclub right now is that we’re getting healthy. We’re logging minutes, we’re getting some good chemistry… But I feel like if we continue to do what we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, probably the last month, then we’ll play much better in the second half than we did in the first.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!