For what feels like the millionth time, but at least for the final time this season, the Sacramento Kings played the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. You know what that means. It's time to feel things again. And when I say "things", I specifically and exclusively mean HATE. No matter how apathetic I may feel about this Kings team, I will always resurrect from the dead to hate the Los Angeles Lakers with every neuron of my being. I already have 2,002 good reasons to hate them, but as Will pointed out in his preview this afternoon, music superstar, Halsey, gave me yet another branch to stoke the flame of hate in my heart for tonight. Imagining the amount of delusion and audacity it takes to think that being a Lakers fan is painful makes my blood boil in a different way. Needless to say, I wanted the Kings to win this game tonight, even if it was just for the sake of the Lakers losing. Let's see if they came through for me:
Outcome: Kings win, 125-116
Sacramento Kings: 125 pts, 55.1% fg, 36.7% 3 pt, 84.2% ft, 28 ast, 45 reb, 13 to
Los Angeles Lakers: 116 pts, 42.9% fg, 34.0% 3 pt, 66.7% ft, 25 ast, 45 reb, 9 to
Hate wins!!! Wow, this felt really good. The Sacramento Kings broke their losing streak by overcoming a 14-point deficit and beating the Los Angeles Lakers at home amidst a crowd of crying bandwagon fans wearing purple and gold jerseys and despite the referees best efforts to give the game to the Lakers. That is the most satisfying run on sentence I have ever written in my life. If anything can thaw this frozen heart, it's a solid Kings win over the Lakers.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Third Quarter (Yes, the THIRD Quarter): The Kings have long been plagued by their third quarter struggles and it is often when we see the game get away from them. Going into the second half, the Kings trailed by six points after giving up 34 and 33 points in the first two quarters. Instead of the usual sluggish response, the Kings came out firing. And they did it the right way. It started on the defensive end when the Kings began to get handsy in passing lanes and force turnovers. They took it even a step further and turned these stolen possessions into quick transition points that ultimately totaled to a 20-4 run to give the Kings a swing to a 12-point lead. De'Aaron Fox capitalized on the lack of rim protection from the Lakers' small lineup and found his way to the rim a handful of times, scoring 10 of his 29 points in the third period. Overall, the Kings showed a recognition on both ends of the floor that digging in on defense and attacking the rim on offense could get them back on top. They outscored the Lakers 40-23 as a result.
- Closing Out All Four Quarters: The Kings had solid finishes to every quarter tonight. In the first, we got a great sequence from Davion Mitchell who bodied up to Russell Westbrook on defense on one end and then recorded a highlight reel on the other end by putting Austin Reaves in a blender and hitting a soft floater. In the second, it was again Mitchell who provided a strong defensive presence on the ball and a sweet left handed finish at the rim. De'Aaron Fox also topped it off with another well-executed bucket and cut the deficit to just six points headed into the half. In the third, the Kings had another great defensive possession which resulted in a Fox to Buddy Hield transition 3-pointer to secure the 17-point swing and 11-point lead. Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Kings withstood the LeBron James (34 points) takeover, the Austin Reaves (19 points) & Malik Monk (22 points) shootout, and the referees' bias. While the Lakers were looking to rush the pace and take long shots, the Kings were disciplined enough to clean up the boards and not get rattled. They executed their offense well down the stretch and got open looks to finish the Lakers off.
- Sharing the Ball: The Kings finished with 28 assists total, but most impressive was that they achieved 23 of these in the first three quarters. When the Kings were climbing the comeback mountain and riding the wave of taking the lead, the ball was moving and assists were stacking up. It was not only fun to watch, but it was beautiful basketball. Having smaller lineups, with Alex Len only logging 18 minutes tonight, allowed the Kings to have more spacing for Tyrese Haliburton and De'Aaron Fox to find lanes to attack. Haliburton recorded another double double with 14 points and 10 assists.
- Offensive Boards: Despite going with a smaller lineup, the Lakers secured 15 offensive boards. Especially in the first half, where the Lakers grabbed 10 of them, the Kings failed to do the dirty work of locating bodies and boxing out. The second, third, and sometimes fourth opportunities they granted to the Lakers led to 20 Lakers' points in the first half alone. Luckily, they cleaned this up in the second half.
- Lakers Fans in G1C: It’s always annoying seeing so many Lakers jerseys in the crowd. Luckily the Kings quieted the away crowd and sent them running for the exits before the final buzzer.
The King of Kings
I think Harrison Barnes reads The Kings Herald. After Brenden Nunes published a very fair and detailed breakdown of his recent struggles, the Black Falcon rose to the challenge and responded in the best way tonight. Barnes finished with 23 points and seven rebounds and shot 3-6 from deep. He had a handful of big boy moves, including a huge rebound to conclude the Kings' final defensive possession. Welcome back, HB!
Friday, January 14th vs. Houston Rockets - 7:00 P.M. (PT)