Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road contest against Sacramento, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Kings: A. Brooks, T. Evans, J. Salmons, J. Thompson, D. Cousins
6:00 L.A. started hot, taking 6-0 and 8-3 leads with rhythm shots and good D, but stalled in the next few minutes to allow the Kings an 11-10 edge. John Salmons had the first nine points after totaling only nine in the early November Kings loss at Staples Center, and Kobe Bryant picked up two early fouls for the second straight game.
0:00 The first period in Sacramento was very similar to the second half against Brooklyn, as the Lakers mitigated their poor free throw shooting (5 of 10) by keeping their opponent off the line, all the while playing solid half court D. The Kings took only two foul shots and made just 6 of 19 shots, the Lakers thus taking a 21-15 lead into the second.
10:01 L.A.’s second unit has really struggled to find a rhythm on O, and with misses or turnovers on that end, the Kings took advantage by getting good looks on the other, using a 9-0 burst to take a 24-21 lead. Marcus Thornton was doing damage, reaching seven pine points. Displeased as the run grew to 11-0, D’Antoni went back to his starters right away, Hill the only remaining sub (Duhon, Meeks, Jamison sitting). And they responded: Kobe nailed back-to-back triples immediately, Morris converted a driving layup, and Bryant capped an 11-2 push with an and-1 to put L.A. up 32-28.
2:55 Under D’Antoni in the last three games (two of which he spent in the locker room), the Lakers averaged only 11.3 turnovers per game, having come in around 17 or 18 under Mike Brown. Yet on this back to back, L.A. was playing fatigued, and had already totaled 10 turnovers with three minutes to play in the half. The Kings took advantage to stay tight, yet a corner three from Gasol and Bryant’s sixth field goal allowed a 39-38 lead. Looking especially tired was Howard, who had taken only one shot (a miss) in 17 minutes.
0:00 The turnovers continued to build, Bryant’s entry pass sailing over Howard’s head, the 12th TO of the half. On the positive side, Gasol lofted a pretty alley-oop to get Howard his first field goal. However, the Spaniard missed two free throws – L.A. hitting only 6 of 15, Gasol 1 of 4 – and then missed an open layup with 20 seconds left in the half. On the other end, Jason Thompson converted a buzzer beater to allow SAC a 42-41 lead heading into the locker rooms.
4:41 Two Bryant free throws snapped a 6-0 Kings run, but the deficit was still six at 64-58 with the Lakers continuing to show fatigue, failing to find their energy at the half. Gasol’s long night continued with just 2 of 9 field goal and 1 of 4 free throw attempts, while Howard had only four points on 2 of 3 attempts.
1:00 Black Mamba alert. Continuing to try and will the Lakers almost single-handedly, Bryant drained three consecutive three-pointers in under two minutes, trimming what had been built to an 11-point lead to only four. That gave him 31 points in 30 minutes, on 9 of 15 field goals and eight of nine free throws.
8:40 Sacramento pushed its lead to 10 at 88-78 when Marcus Thornton reached 18 points with a three-pointer, but Jodie Meeks stayed red hot by nailing his third triple, and second of the fourth, as he had all 12 of his team’s points in the period. He was rewarded by staying on the floor with the rest of the starters. However, he was called for a touch foul on the other end, and with the Kings already in the bonus, Thomas hit two free throws to make it 90-81.
3:05 After Kobe and Meeks missed respective triples, Bryant got a tough and-1 to go off a slick spin move to reach 38 points and get the Lakers back within three. But when needing stops, L.A. continued to struggle to convert on defense, this time Thornton nailing a potential dagger three to restore a seven-point lead (99-92) with 2:46 on the clock. Of note: Gasol/Howard had combined for 12 points on 4 of 12 field goals.
0:00 If that Thornton triple didn’t end it, a flagrant foul on Howard after he missed a layup did. The Kings went on to outscore the Lakers 14-5 down the stretch towards a 113-97 victory, their third straight home win over Los Angeles. This one had L.A. fall back to .500 at 6-6 on the season. The lack of production inside, fatigue setting in or not, killed the Lakers in this one against an aggressive (now) 3-8 Kings team that always seems to save its best effort for the Lakers. Up next is another back-to-back at Memphis and Dallas after Turkey Day. We’ll see you there.