Tonight the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed the Sacramento Kings into Staples Center for their fourth and final meeting of the season. Entering Friday, the Kings held a 2-1 series lead, as the Lakers looked to even the series.
D’Angelo Russell was cleared to return after suffering some knee trouble over the past few games, while Brandon Ingram was once again given a minute restriction. The Lakers, who secured impressive wins over the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, attempted to make it three consecutive victories with just three more games left in the regular season.
Los Angeles started the game with a lineup of Russell, Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. The Kings countered with a lineup of Darren Collison, Buddy Hield, Arron Afflalo, Skal Labissiere, and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Both teams came out the gates pretty fast but the Kings quickly went on an 11-2 run to take an early 14-7 lead. Cauley-Stein led the Kings with seven points early points. Coming out of a timeout the Kings perfectly executed a pick and roll between Hield and Cauley-Stein that led to an easy dunk.
On the next Lakers possession Randle drilled a 17-foot jumper to get the offense going. After a near turnover the Lakers were able to get the ball back and score a on a slam dunk by Ingram that got the crowd on its feet.
After a basket by the Kings’ Georgious Papagiannis, Randle responded with a strong drive to the basket to bring the Lakers within four points with three-and-a-half minutes left in the first quarter. Coming out of another timeout the Kings were able to score on an easy layup by Labissiere.
After the Lakers missed a layup on a fast break opportunity, the Kings took advantage of the defense and scored to put them up eight points. Before the quarter came to a close, Collison gave the Kings their biggest lead of the game, 13 points, when he drilled a three-pointer from the corner.
Los Angeles trailed the Kings 31-18 at the end of the first quarter.
A Clarkson and Tarik Black alley-oop connection started the quarter off for the Lakers. A Kings turnover led to a Thomas Robinson layup on the other end to cut the Lakers deficit back to single digits. On the next Lakers possession , Clarkson knocked down his second three-pointer of the game to force a Sacramento timeout.
Sloppy play by both teams led to a few turnover filled possessions before Clarkson drilled a tough jumper over his defender to bring the Lakers within four points. Tyler Ennis got in on the action when he scored on a high-arcing layup. The Kings got their first field goal of the quarter when Ben McLemore made a three-pointer five minutes into the period.
Clarkson scored once again off a nice assist from Randle and Nance Jr. finished a dunk on the pass from Russell. Those two plays forced another kings timeout, with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the half.
Nance Jr. gave Los Angeles the lead when he scored on an offensive rebound, with a crafty floater. After Nance Jr. connected on a pair of free throws, Afflalo and Labissiere responded with back-to-back jumpers to tie the game once again with two minutes left in the quarter.
Before the quarter ended the Lakers gave up a slam dunk to the Kings’ Labissiere and trailed 45-44 at halftime. The Lakers held the Kings to 14 points in the quarter, while picking up the offensive pace with 26 of their own.
Both teams began the quarter making by trading a couple of baskets before Hield drilled a long three-pointer to out the Kings ahead four points. The Lakers got a nice offensive sequence when Russell found Randle posted down low and proceeded to muscle his way for the easy layup.
On the next two ensuing Lakers possessions, Randle made back-to-back layups to tie the game at 54. After the Lakers failed to score coming out of a timeout, Hield knocked down a corner three-pointer and Cauley-Stein dunked the ball on two straight possessions to give the Kings the lead. Ingram and Ennis responded with baskets of their own on the next Lakers’ possession.
With the Lakers down one-point, Ingram got fouled when he delivered a thunderous slam dunk to get the crowd on its feet, but was unable to convert the free throw. Randle showed his versatility when he dribbled behind his back and made his way toward the basket for a difficult layup.
Papagiannis showed his skill when he backed down Randle in the post and used nice footwork to score an easy turnaround baby hook shot to give the Kings a three-point lead. The Lakers trail at the end of the third quarter, 70-69.
Labissiere knocked down a Kings’ three-pointer to begin the quarter to extend the lead to four points. After Robinson and Corey Brewer made back-to-back baskets, McLemore responded a three-pointer quite the crowd.
The Kings capitalized when Brewer missed a layup and turned it into a made three-pointer by Langston Galloway. On the next Kings’ possession, Hield knocked down a midrange jumper to extend the lead to five points with seven minutes left in the quarter.
Brewer made an impressive layup when Metta World Peace found him cutting toward the basket to momentarily stop the Kings momentum. Robinson helped cut the Lakers deficit to one when Russell found him on the fastbreak an easy slam dunk and on the next Lakers possession, World Peace drew a foul on Hield and made both free throws.
The Kings regained the lead when Hield and Labissiere scored consecutive baskets. With the Lakers down one, Russell connected on a straight away three -pointer to get the crowd on its feet with three minutes left in the final period.
After McLemore gave the Kings the lead, Randle responded with a pair of free throws for the Lakers. Both teams then proceeded to trade baskets until Russell scored a layup to give the Lakers a one-point lead. A Nance Jr. free throw gave the Lakers a two-point lead with five seconds remaining in the game. With Hield inbounding the ball, Brewer intercepted his pass attempt and was immediately fouled. Brewer than knocked down with free throws to essentially put the game away.
The Lakers win their third-straight game by defeating the Kings, 98-94. Randle led the Lakers with 25 points and hauled in six rebounds. The Kings were led by Skal Labisierre. who scored 19 points. The Lakers are back it again on Sunday night to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.