The Los Angeles Lakers took to the road Wednesday night for their first back-to-back game of the young season. Taking the road may be a tad of an overstatement, however, as they were only several hours north in Sacramento to take on the Kings. While this used to be a heated rivalry game earlier in the decade, this game featured a rebuilding Kings franchise and the defending champion Lakers, so Los Angeles was the clear favorite heading into the night.
The game started strong for Los Angeles, as they jumped to an early 10-4 lead. The biggest moment of the first quarter came early on, as Kobe Bryant was able to notch another record into his already prestigious belt. He logged his 37,493rd minute as a member of the Lakers in the first, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the most all time in Lakers history.
As for the game at hand, the Lakers played well offensively throughout the quarter. An injury to Tyreke Evans towards the end of the first didn’t bode well for Sacramento, and the Lakers ended the quarter with a slim 35-33 lead.
As is custom for the Lakers this season, the second quarter was run by the reserves. They struggled in this one, however, giving up the lead early on in the quarter. A lack of ball movement and team work dug a hole for Los Angeles, and the crowd was able to feed off the momentum. It was evident that the Lakers hadn’t ventured away from Staples Center very much so far this year, as the crowd really seemed to get in the heads of the reserves.
Phil Jackson quickly brought back Bryant and Derek Fisher, who immediately had an impact on the game. A quick four-point play from Bryant had the Lakers back in rhythm, but Sacramento didn’t back down. Tyreke Evans also returned for the Kings, overcoming his injury from the first quarter. Sacramento missed countless shots at or around the rim, which really hurt their chance to extend the lead. After a full-court pass for a buzzer beating lay-in, the Lakers headed to halftime leading the Sacramento Kings 62-53.
The third quarter looked like the Lakers from the past few games versus Memphis and Golden State. Bryant led the Lakers to a quick start in the third, picking up his tenth assist in the process. The Lakers took advantage of the Kings poor defense, stretching the lead to 77-59 with nine minutes remaining in the quarter.
Bryant led the way for Los Angeles as the Lakers stormed to a big lead. The bench had a little trouble matching the intensity again towards the end of the quarter, but solid play from Lamar Odom allowed Los Angeles to head to the fourth with a 92-78 lead over Sacramento.
With a game that seemed all but decided, the only real question entering the fourth was whether or not Bryant would pick up that one rebound to get his triple-double. Lakers coach Phil Jackson faced a dilemma, as I’m sure he wanted to rest his starters as much as possible in the fourth quarter. After an injury scare to Lamar Odom in the third, much of Lakers Nation was hoping to leave the state capital with a win and all their players intact.
Sacramento was able to make Los Angeles sweat a little bit, digging into the lead. Even though Bryant was able to pick up the triple-double with seven minutes to play in the fourth, he was frustrated by the Sacramento defense in the fourth. In the end the Kings comeback wasn’t enough, as the Lakers were able to maintain their perfect record, beating Sacramento 112-100.