CK Press Box Report: Los Angeles Lakers 106, Sacramento Kings 100

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

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The game ended with a barrage of shots.  Unfortunately for the Sacramento Kings, that barrage didn’t come from their side of the floor.

After leading by as many as 10 points, the Kings allowed the Los Angeles Lakers to outscore them 13-3 in the closing minutes of a 106-100 loss at Sleep Train Arena on Friday.

“Obviously this isn’t what we worked on, diagrammed or hoped for,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the game.  “It’s obvious that we have to do a lot more.  I thought we had great late-game execution against Golden State… Tonight down the stretch, we turned the ball over on almost every possession.  It was very disappointing, obviously.”

The Kings’ undoing began with a 25-foot three by guard Jodie Meeks.  Leading the Lakers by four, Meeks’ jumper cut the Kings’ advantage to one, 97-96, in the game’s final minutes.  After a Pau Gasol jumper from the free throw line and another three from Meeks, this time from the left corner, a loss for the Kings seemed like a forgone conclusion.

In the final period, the Kings went away from what made them successful early in the contest.  After scoring 32 points on the Lakers in the third quarter, the Kings’ offense stalled in the fourth where they tallied just 13 points and shot an abysmal 23.5 percent from the field.

“Personally, I think we played very slow in the fourth quarter,” Kings guard Isaiah Thomas said in the locker room after the loss.  “I don’t know what it was.  We went down to DeMarcus (Cousins and he) hit a few tough shots.  That’s our go-to-guy.  But we still, when we can, we’ve got to get out and run.”

Turnovers proved costly for the Kings as well.  The Kings committed five turnovers in the final frame, three of which came in the last 1:30 of the loss.

“It was tough,” starting point guard Greivis Vasquez said of the miscues made down the stretch.  “We turned the ball over, but we’ve got to try defensively.  We’ve got to find a way to care about each other on defense and offense I think.

“When we do that, we look like a good team,” Vasquez added.  “When we don’t do that, we lost games like the way we lost tonight.”

The Kings fall to 4-13 and 3-9 at home.  The loss to the Lakers continues a now season-high six-game losing streak.

There will be little time for the Kings to digest on their latest defeat.  They head to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz tomorrow.

Notes and Analysis

  • Rookie Ben McLemore set a new career-high tonight, scoring 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field and 4-for-7 from the line. McLemore added six rebounds and two steals and probably earned more than the 32 minutes he played tonight.
  • Isaiah Thomas was on fire in the first half, scoring all 14 of his points and dishing out seven of his team-high nine assists before the intermission. In the second half, the Lakers doubled Thomas and tried to keep the ball out of his hands. The result though was a loss for the Kings.
  • DeMarcus Cousins scored 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, handed out four assists and picked up two steals in 32 minutes. The raw numbers look good, but a closer look tells a different story. Cousins shot just 6-for-17 from the field, turned the ball over six times and fouled out late in the game. This wasn’t exactly the type of performance you expect when Robert Sacre is starting opposite Cousins.
  • John Salmons played extremely well in his 26 minutes, scoring 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting and hitting three of his five 3-point attempts. Since going to the bench, Salmons seems to have found his game and is once again contributing to the team.
  • Starting forwards Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams both had strong games for coach Malone, but Williams logged just three minutes in the fourth quarter, while Thompson was left on the bench. Williams finished with nine points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes, while Thompson scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds in 23 minutes. Pretty shocking to see Malone stick with mostly second unit players and get outscored 25-13 in the final 12 minutes.
  • Patrick Patterson continued his roller coaster shooting, finishing just 1-for-9 for the second straight game for Sacramento. He finished with two points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Marcus Thornton had a quiet night as well, scoring just two points on 1-for-3 shooting in 16 minutes.
  • Jimmer Fredette and Travis Outlaw received the dreaded DNP-CD for coach Malone, while rookie Ray McCallum saw action for the first time in his career, playing the final 13 seconds of the game after Cousins fouled out.
  • Stat of the Night: The Lakers outscored the Kings by a final of 25-13 in the deciding fourth quarter.

Quote of the Game

Malone on the stagnant fourth quarter:

“We felt that we had a major advantage in the post. We were in the bonus and trying to get to the foul line.   DeMarcus Cousins did a great job at finding the open man on the perimeter. When you try to go for a matchup  or establish a guy in the post then it takes away from some of the ball movement. I think that until we started   turning the ball over in the game, we got whatever we wanted offensively.”

Video shot and edited by Kimani David.

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