The Lakers rested their stars for this game and Kobe Bryant decided to take this game off and prepare for the post-season run. Bryant needed to score 38 points to become the NBA’s scoring champion, but he wanted to stay healthy for the Playoffs which will began Sunday for the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers started the game with Ramon Sessions, Steve Blake, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts and Jordan Hill. This was a learning opportunity for the young players and a chance for them to score without having the help of the starters. Three of these players shined in the Lakers’ win over the Thunder and they helped the team tie the score at eight with 8:44 to play.
The Kings offense was running well and they are playing off the adrenaline from the crowd. It was their last home game and the fans were behind the team in the first quarter. With their athletic starting lineup, the team was getting into the open court and scored from the paint. At the 6:06 mark of the period, the Kings were up 16-10.
Sacramento continued to play well as the quarter progressed and they were getting most of their points from the open-court. The Lakers’ defense was not very effective and although this was a futile game, the effort wasn’t there for Los Angeles. With 2:20 left to play in the quarter, the Kings were up by double digits.
After 12 minutes of play, the Lakers faced a 35-24 deficit. Ebanks and Hill led the Lakers in scoring with six points.
The Lakers had a nice start to the second quarter and were beginning to knock down some outside shots. Andrew Goudelock was a reliable option for the Lakers, but the Kings answered back to the run. Sacramento came back with a surge of their own and took a 40-29 lead with 9:35 to play in the half.
The Kings kept their cushion from the Lakers and they have answered for every little run. Los Angeles was no longer connecting on its perimeter jumpers and its defense returned to its previous state. At the 5:46 mark of the second quarter, the Lakers were down 44-35.
Sacramento kept its foot on the gas pedal all the way to end of the first half and went back to the locker-room with a double-digit lead. The Lakers made a small push to end the period, but they were down 56-43 after 24 minutes of play.
Josh McRoberts was the Lakers’ leading scorer with seven points, followed by Hill and Ebanks with six. As a team, the Lakers committed seven turnovers and shot 38 percent from the field.
The Lakers began the second half well and were attacking the basket to get their points. The guards found their way to the paint and were much more aggressive than they were in the opening half. At the 9:20 mark, the Lakers brought the deficit down to ten, 63-53.
However, the Lakers could not muster enough together to put a major dent into the deficit. Just like in the first half, the Kings have an answer for the Lakers and never let them threaten the lead. The young Kings team got much needed points in the fast-break and they held a 71-57 lead at the 6:05 mark of the period.
The Kings were clicking on all cylinders and expanded their lead over the Lakers. After 36 minutes of play, the Kings held a 90-74 advantage behind big numbers from DeMarcus Cousins and Isiah Thomas. The two players hurt the Lakers from the outside and the inside and the effort was essentially non-existant for Los Angeles.
In the final quarter of the 2011-12 regular season, the Kings continued with their stellar play and put on a show for their fans. The Lakers were clearly disinterested in the game and seemed fine with the Kings winning.
Los Angeles was not very aggressive on the offensive end and their defense was virtually spread into pieces by the Kings. The Lakers were looking forward to a long playoff run and that made them complacent in this match against the Kings.
However, this gave the Lakers’ second unit some valuable time on the court. Los Angeles needs help from the reserves if it wants to make a deep playoff run and this was a game in which they showcased their talent.
As the final buzzer rang the regular season came to an end, and the Lakers lost, 113-96.
The Los Angeles Lakers finished the season at 41-25, the third best record in the Western Conference. The Lakers will play their first playoff game on Sunday at 12:30 PST when they host the Denver Nuggets.
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