Before the three-game road trip that begins on Tuesday in Washington, the Los Angeles Lakers face the Sacramento Kings at STAPLES Center. Without Chris Kaman for the second straight game, Pau Gasol looks to establish himself in the paint once again. While the Lakers’ frontcourt has played well, they will have their hands full against one of the best young talents in the league — DeMarcus Cousins. With a win tonight, the Lakers will reach the .500 mark despite having the third most difficult schedule in the league so far.
To start the game, the big men established themselves early and often. After 24 points and 10 rebounds against the Golden State Warriors, Gasol was aggressive once again and scored nine points. For the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins was very active and had eight points of his own. While the Lakers played with good defensive energy, they couldn’t stop Greivis Vasquez who had 13 points on 6-7 shooting. The Lakers were able to get stops late and a 29-24 lead heading into the second quarter.
With the second unit in for the Lakers, they were able to create turnovers and quickly increased the lead to 13 points. After a timeout by the Kings, they came back with their own run and were able to get within six points. Midway through the quarter, the starters came back in and were able to maintain the lead at 8-10 points. However, the Lakers didn’t finish the quarter strong as the Kings were able to close to gap to five before a Steve Blake layup to end the half. With 14 points by Gasol, the Lakers have a 55-48 lead at halftime.
The Lakers turned the ball over on the very first possession of the second half and rookie Ben McLemore responded with two quick baskets to cut the deficit to two points. Los Angeles was extremely sloppy with the ball and settled for jump shots, but never surrendered their lead. Midway through the quarter, Jodie Meeks scored four quick points to help the Lakers increase their lead to eight. To close the third, the Lakers got multiple stops and went on a 10-0 run. Heading into the fourth, the Lakers have a 73-61 lead.
Both teams went back and forth, but the Lakers were able to increase their lead with the help of Jordan Hill. Hill played solid defense on Cousins while getting a double-double in the process. For the first six minutes of the fourth,the Lakers bench had great ball movement and were able to disrupt the Kings’ offense as they tried to play through Cousins. After struggling the last couple of games, Xavier Henry exploded with 12 points in the quarter as the Lakers reached the .500 mark with a 100-86 victory.
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