It is Kobe Bryant’s final trip to Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to avenge their loss from earlier in their season to the Sacramento Kings. The Kings embarrassed the Lakers the last time they were in Sacramento, scoring 80 points in the paint and out-rebounding the Lakers by 19 boards.
The Lakers are coming off of a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, and are looking to start another winning streak tonight. D’Angelo Russell is making his return to the floor after missing one game with a sore throat and Kobe will make his first appearance since the Lakers won in Boston last week.
Larry Nance Jr. opened the game with a mid-range jumper, but the Kings answered with a quick 19-2 run to put them up big in the opening minutes over the Lakers. Coach Byron Scott waited until the 7:52 mark to finally call a timeout to stop the bleeding after the Lakers were clearly struggling. The Kings scored six straight points out of the timeout, but Kobe finally made a free throw to cut the Lakers deficit to 20 points. Lou Williams made a corner three and that was the Lakers first field goal in nearly four minutes. Kobe gave his best effort to keep the Lakers in the game, scoring seven points in the first nine minutes, but the Kings continued to score at will against the Lakers’ poor defense. Williams scored 10 points in the first quarter but Kings shot 60 percent from the field and the Lakers trailed 38-21.
Two minutes into the second quarter, D’Angelo Russell stole the ball from Marco Belinelli and pushed the ball in transition for a coast-to-coast layup. Russell then followed up that play with his patented pull-up jumper from the elbow, but Belinelli converted a four-point play for the Kings on the very next possession. Kobe continued to impress in his return to the hardwood with a nice assist to Russell followed by a three-point play on a difficult jumpshot, but they Lakers still trailed by 15 points with 7:28 left in the half. With the Lakers down 20, Jordan Clarkson found Kobe cutting back door and Kobe caught Clarkson’s lob and dunked it home. Kobe did whatever he could to keep the game competitive, scoring 18 points in the first half, but the Lakers could not stop the Kings from scoring in the paint. The Kings scored 30 points in the paint in the first half and the Lakers trailed 48-69.
Kobe came out of the locker room firing, hitting back-to-back threes and a baseline fadeaway to give him 26 points on the evening, but the Lakers still trailed the Kings by 20 points. After Kobe’s outburst, the Kings continued to pile on the lead and the Lakers trailed 86-61 with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter. D’Angelo Russell checked back into the game and made a three-pointer and a layup in transition to cut the Lakers deficit to 18 points with 4:45 left in the third. Lou Williams and D’Angelo Russell tried to keep the Lakers in the game with their hot outside shooting, but they allowed over 100 points through three quarters. The Lakers scored a season high 38 points in the third quarter but still trailed the Kings 102-86 at the end of three.
The Lakers started the fourth quarter with a 11-2 run and only trailed by 11 points with 9:32 to go in the game. Clarkson broke Seth Curry’s ankles and finished with his left hand past Cousins and the Lakers cut the deficit to nine points. Russell and Clarkson took over in the fourth quarter, and Russell completed a three-point play that brought the Lakers within four points with 7:17 remaining in the game. A massive three-pointer from Russell followed by a Clarkson floater gave the Lakers their first lead since the first quarter as they came all the way back from 27 points down to lead 109-108 with just under four minutes remaining. The Lakers would commit back-to-back turnovers and a lob form Rondo to Gay put the Kings back ahead. Russell would respond again with a tough layup over Cousins to up his career high to 27, but turned his ankle in the process. He would stay in the game briefly, but couldn’t move and would leave with two minutes left. Clarkson hit a jumper and Cousins split a pair of free throws as the Lakers stayed ahead by a point. The Lakers would get a huge stop with a minute remaining, but Clarkson would miss the shot and Rondo would hit a floater to put the Kings up by one with 21.7 seconds. Clarkson was stripped from behind by Rondo and Cousins hit both free throws as the Lakers had one more chance to tie the game with 6.8 seconds left. Williams missed the three and the Lakers fell 118-115.