On Friday night at the Crypto.com Arena, your Los Angeles Lakers, albeit without LeBron James, were their own worst enemy. The club coughed up late leads with head-scratching decisions in both halves to fumble a winnable home game against the Sacramento Kings, eventually losing 120-114.
This win marks the Kings’ second straight win and their fifth win in their last seven games. Sacramento improved to an annual record of 5-6, good for 10th place in the West. LA, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight game, its second in 12 contests. The team slipped to a 2-10 record that year, good for…the worst record in the NBA (tied with the Houston Rockets).
With James eliminated, head coach Darvin Ham started with Wenyen Gabriel as power forward, rather than moving Anthony Davis to fourth (his preferred position) and adding Damian Jones to the starting line-up at centre.
Anthony Davis (17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and seven first-half rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and five first-half assists) catalyzed the Lakers’ reasonably good performance through which to total the first two quarters of the game.
In the first half, Davis was at least able to get his numbers against his Sacramento Kings counterpart, two-time All-Star Big Man Domantas Sabonis, as he did here:
However, Westbrook was pretty sloppy with the ball all night. Check out this brutal turnover that came off a Damian Jones screen earlier in the second quarter:
They actually led by 11 points, 59-48, with 36.4 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Then it went south.
De’Aaron Fox made a 14-foot leap in five seconds before LA matched that 59-48 lead, cutting the lead to a single digit. Westbrook promptly lost the ball thanks to a steal from Kevin Huerter. The Kings shooting guard rushed to the other side and converted a layup. Westbrook next coughed up his second turnover of the quarter-ending 16.4 seconds after a poor pass was intercepted by Kings power forward Harrison Barnes. Westbrook then had another foul, his second in the final 36.4 seconds of the second quarter, and Fox converted the ensuing free throw. After that, Fox nailed a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left on the shot clock to take the Kings to four at the break, 60-56.
In the second half, Davis and Westbrook’s quick-wittedness took a nosedive. They only went 4-of-17 from the floor in the last two periods of the game, although both made decent hits to the line and connected on most of their free-throw looks.
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The Kings easily outplayed LA 31-28 in the third quarter. Los Angeles took a tenuous one-point lead into the fourth and final rule frame. At that point, De’Aaron Fox took over, who scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and provided four assists, resulting in an additional nine total points for Sacramento.
Los Angeles actually led the Kings late in the fourth quarter after a Russ-Trey gave LA a 114-112 lead, staying 2:13 in regulation.
Here’s the triple:
Unfortunately, a series of fouls and turnovers from Westbrook and missed jumpers from everyone doomed the Lakers late on. The team didn’t score another point throughout the game while Sacramento went on an 8-0 finishing run.
The Kings defense made a point of catching Davis in the final two minutes of the game, as the team clearly wasn’t afraid of the (admittedly bad) shot down the Lakers’ wings:
Is this what you would call “team of five” coverage?
Davis finished with a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Westbrook had an inefficient double-double of his own with 21 points and 11 assists. But he also had five turnovers and five personal fouls. Shooting guards Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves continued to impress for LA as each scored 19 points.
De’Aaron Fox is really starting to look like the star he’s paid to be. He scored 32 points (while walking 13 of 19), dished out the most 12 assists of the season, pulled down seven rebounds and grabbed two steals.
Watch him stroke Austin Reaves’ soul with this one:
Domantas Sabonis had 21 points (on 9 of 15 shots from the floor), 10 rebounds and 6 assists last night, along with 21.6 points on 56.7% field goal shooting, 10.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists averaging through his first five November games. Kevin Huerter has 16 points for Sacramento.
The Lakers have a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday against the 5-7 Brooklyn Nets, who have played much better under new head coach Jacque Vaughn (and without still-suspended starting point guard Kyrie Irving).