The shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers went on the road and lost to the Sacramento Kings in blowout fashion, 134-120.
LeBron James returned to the starting lineup and showed no ill effects from the left ankle soreness he’s been dealing with as he scored five early points. The paced picked up midway through the quarter, but James was able to keep the Lakers ahead 13-12 after burying a deep jumper from the left wing.
The bench unit did a good job of holding down the fort with James on the bench, scoring in the half court to maintain their one-possession lead. Turnovers at the end of the period allowed Sacramento to cut into the lead, but Los Angeles went into the second up 26-25.
The Kings’ second unit came out with a burst of energy that caught the Lakers off balance but Lonnie Walker IV kept them ahead with a corner three. Thomas Bryant had a strong showing when he came back into the game, hitting a jumper off a pick-and-pop and then finishing a dunk off a pocket pass from James.
Defensively, the Lakers started to slip as the Kings began getting to the rim which also opened up the rest of the floor for their shooters. Los Angeles was unable to keep up with Sacramento in the closing minutes of the half and they went into the break trailing 66-58.
De’Aaron Fox opened the third carving up the Lakers defense, forcing head coach Darvin Ham to call an early timeout as his team fell behind by 13. Bryant was a spark offensively as he found himself free underneath for dunks, but Fox responded on the other way to cut Los Angeles’ momentum.
Dennis Schroder was able to spark a mini-run with back-to-back threes, but Domantis Sobanis’ offensive rebounding and passing put the Lakers down 97-81. The Kings continued to pour it on as the Laker defense couldn’t get a stop and they would go into the final period down 106-86.
The starters began to chip away at the deficit, with James taking control of the offense though they were still staring a double-digit Sacramento advantage. The Laker offense found it easier to score baskets, but the Kings seemingly answered each time down to prevent them from making a dent.
It felt like Los Angeles kept getting the short end of the stick when it came to whistles as they had several calls go against them, making it an even tougher ask to get back into the contest. Despite a trio of free throws from James and Schroder, the Kings promptly answered with consecutive threes to put the game away.
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