The Los Angeles Lakers played their final seeding game of the NBA restart on Thursday, falling to the Sacramento Kings, 136-122. The matchup didn’t have any implications for either team, as the Lakers had long clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and the Kings were already eliminated form playoff contention.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had largely continued to play his regulars but erred on the side of caution in their regular-season finale. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (right foot contusion), Alex Caruso (neck spasms), Anthony Davis (sore right knee) and Kyle Kuzma (coach’s decision) all did not play.
Furthermore, LeBron James and Danny Green only played in the first half. James finished with 17 pointes, 3 rebounds and 4 assists in 15 minutes of action. He shot 2-of-5 from deep, and was part of the Lakers faring well behind the arc in the early going.
L.A. scored 40 points in the first quarter and led by 10 heading into the second. However, their offense regressed and slowing the Kings became an issue. Sacramento exploded for 36 points in the second quarter to take a 66-56 lead into halftime.
The Kings blew the game open in the third quarter, which saw them make 12 consecutive baskets.
With the Lakers resting several of their regulars, the likes of Jared Dudley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Markieff Morris, JR Smith and Dion Waiters received extended opportunities to make a final case for the playoff rotation. The group was a bit flatfooted in the third quarter but played with better energy in the fourth.
It still was not enough to overcome the deficit, but Smith and Waiters had stretches where they both shot the ball effectively and helped orchestrate offense for others. All 12 players who were active scored, with Devonate Cacok the last to do so with a basket four minutes into the final quarter.
Horton-Tucker, who started in place of Caruso, impressed with 14 points. Waiters led all Lakers bench players with 19 points.
Lakers now wait for Western Conference play-in
While the Lakers head into the NBA Playoffs with the top seed in the Western Conference, who they will face in the first round remains unclear. Entering Thursday, the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs remained alive for the play-in.
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