Lakers vs. Kings Final Score: LeBron shuts down The Beam
The Lakers continued their best stretch of the season on Friday night, taking down the Sacramento Kings in a 136-134 win. The game was back and forth, with 18 lead changes and 20 ties, but in the end the Lakers secured the victory in the final seconds.
The win moved the Lakers to 19-21, back to nearly .500 and tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for 11th in the Western Conference standings.
The production for LA was well balanced. LeBron James had 37 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and Dennis Schroder had the game-winning free throws as part of his 27 points. Russell Westbrook added 23 points, 15 assists and 5 rebounds off the bench, and Thomas Bryant continued his recent streak of excellent production with 29 points and 14 rebounds.
Sacramento may have lost, but their stars came to play as well in a game that was in doubt for all 48 minutes. De’Aron Fox had 34 points and 9 assists, and scored 17 in the fourth alone to keep the Kings in the game. Damontas Sabonis had 25 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists before fouling out late in the game thanks to LeBron targeting him all game.
With so many players out and having only played last night, the Lakers stuck with the same starting five that found so much success against Atlanta in Sacramento. That consistency and production continued Saturday, with the Lakers scoring 37 points in the first quarter alone. The 3-point shooting, which was LA’s Achilles heel early in the season, started out as a strength tonight as they shot 66.7% from three in the first quarter. Sacramento was just as good, however, with Davion Mitchell scoring nine points off the bench to lead the Kings to a one-point lead.
The rest of the piece was a back-and-forth affair. Sacramento went on a run to start the second and Los Angeles countered with a 9-0 run of their own. The defense was optional and the referees’ whistle felt inconsistent (20 free throws for the Kings 12 for the Lakers), but after a period of basketball, the game was deadlocked at 73.
After the first half, both teams continued where they left off. The Kings’ starting five was clicking on all cylinders with every starter in double figures, and the Lakers had their three current best players, Bron, Russ and Dennis, answering every Sacramento basket. In the closing seconds of the quarter, Bron’s score tied things up at 109 once again.
So three quarters of absolute equality. Who would win the fourth and final quarter?
It was the Lakers. They went on an 11-2 run to start the frame, with Bryant making basket after basket up the middle to create separation between them and Sacramento. Eventually the Kings settled down thanks to Sabonis staying aggressive in the paint, and we got back to a two-point game midway through the quarter.
The closing minutes were as exciting as a regular season game, and with 48 seconds left, LeBron converted a layup and not only got the foul, but left Sabonis in the game. One by one, Sacramento had the ball, but Dennis forced a turnover to give the Lakers the ball back. After Russ sank a pair of free throws, Fox hit a tying basket with six seconds left on the clock. Dennis drove to the basket and was fouled with 3.6 seconds left and the pair sealed the win for good when Fox (finally) missed a shot in the fourth quarter as the buzzer sounded.
During this streak, the Lakers have done everything right. They have been a top-five rebounding team and a top-ten 3-point shooting team. Maybe the front office is kicking the can down the road and not looking to compete, but you certainly can’t say the same for the players on the field. They fought back from every deficit tonight to get a hard-fought win on the second night of a back-to-back and are right in the play-in/playoff hunt as we near the halfway point of the season.
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