Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening road contest at Sacramento, the Lakers looking to bounce back from a tough last-minute loss on Christmas to Chicago, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ebanks, McRoberts and Gasol
Kings: T. Evans, M. Thornton, J. Salmons, C. Hayes, D. Cousins
7:00 Something we haven’t seen a ton of in the past few years is wings flying up the floor to finish in transition, but Devin Ebanks showed that he’s more than capable with a pretty hit off a Kings’ miss, putting L.A. up 7-6 early. Other early notables: Gasol was wearing a protective sleeve after suffering a mild sprain of his right shoulder on Sunday, but said he was fine, while McRoberts sprained his left thumb, but also started and is fine.
0:00 A sluggish first quarter produced only eight field goals and three free throws for the Lakers, who found themselves down 21-20. Bryant was slightly off on his J, hitting just 2-of-8, while McRoberts was effective all around with four boards and three dimes. Troy Murphy also offered a quick bench boost with five points, including a three courtesy of a Gasol post up.
8:04 Fulfilling the precise role Mike Brown hoped to have carved out for him, Metta World Peace connected on four field goals at the rim to reach 10 total points, using his strength either posting up or collecting offensive boards. L.A.’s D was less effective, however, as rookie Jimmer Fredette got to the rim twice for layups and rookie Isaiah Thomas nailed a corner three to put the Kings up 32-28.
2:22 Fisher stayed down for an extra few seconds after taking an Evans’ knee to the head trying to draw a charge, but was feeling well enough to draw a charge on Thornton on the perimeter moments later. L.A. was just 16-of-42 from the field (38.1%), and allowing 51.4% FG’s to the Kings, so being down 45-40 wasn’t so much a shocker.
0:00 It got a bit worse for the Lakers into halftime, as Bryant (4-for-13) couldn’t connect and Sacramento tacked four more points on to take a 49-40 lead into the break. L.A.’s trouble on D would surely be the focus, with the Kings shooting a healthy 52.6%, including four triples.
7:33 With Bynum at the team hotel, L.A. certainly needed Gasol’s best game, but he’d struggled throughout the first half and early third. As such, Mike Brown was pleased to see Gasol tip in Bryant’s miss at the rim, then collect Fisher’s long miss and put it back in to cut Sacramento’s growing lead.
5:42 Fisher got an open three off Kobe’s dish that could have cut the lead to two, but as often happens, instead the Kings got a triple at the other end from Salmons to push the lead back to eight. L.A. was taking better care of the ball to that point with only seven turnovers, but was shooting only 38%.
0:00 The home team’s lead would swell to 14 to close the quarter, as L.A. struggled to execute on either end (Kobe will definitely use the word “execute” in his postgame interview). It’d be a long, uphill climb for the purple and gold.
6:00 The general rule for an NBA team to steal a game it trailed is to be within 10 with six minutes left in a period, and here, Bryant’s forceful layup (he basically bullied his way to the rim) made it an 89-81 Kings lead. Kobe was up to 29 points, and with a jumper out of a time out, Metta World Peace ranked behind him with 15 off the bench, cutting the lead to six.
3:07 Make it two. Free throws from MWP capped a 12-2 run, L.A. suddenly finding itself within two, but Sacramento countered with a Thornton three (Marcus had 25 points to lead Sacramento, and it was him who dropped 32 on L.A. the last time they were in the building) to push their lead back to five.
1:00 So much went wrong in the final minutes for L.A. that it almost seemed like Christmas all over again, L.A. failing to clear rebounds on missed free throws, getting called for fouls while trying not to foul and struggling to get to the rim on offense. Thus, the Kings pushed their lead back to 10 points with a minute left, which … well … isn’t the same as a 10-point lead with six minutes left.
Two straight losses for L.A. to start the season, two more games to go without Andrew Bynum, and another young team playing its first game of the season (Utah) coming up in the team’s only back-to-back-to-back of the 66-game season. We’ll see you then.