If a few days ago it seemed that the Lakers were beginning to leave behind their bad times, Vogel’s men have not been slow to return to their old ways. The recent defeat against the Grizzlies already left very bad feelings, and this morning the Californians have continued this trend by falling in Sacramento 125-116, returning to balance their balance of games won and lost (21-21). The Kings, for their part, did so with their 17th victory, keeping them close to the spots that give access to the play in.
Alvin Gentry’s men, who had been under for practically the entire first half, took control of the match after the break thanks to a great exit from the locker room. The locals signed a 31-12 run that allowed them not only to get ahead, but to do so in a relatively loose way, opening a distance that the Lakers managed to reduce but never overcome. The Angelenos came to be only 2 down in the closing stages (118-116), but the Kings did not shake their pulse and were much more resolute to finish closing the duel.
De’Aaron Fox, with his 29 points, was the best of his team, although he was well surrounded, as the entire Sacramento starting lineup finished in double figures in scoring. Harrison Barnes, author of 23 points, was second in this matter, followed by 16 by Marvin Bagley and 14 by both Tyrese Haliburton and Chimezie Metu. The latter was in charge of scoring a key triple when the Lakers threatened to come back in the last moments, giving his team the necessary distance to end the match without excessive shocks.
“This was a much-needed victory,” said Gentry, pleased with their work. “We’ve done a great job attacking the zone (the Kings scored 70 points in the paint). I think that’s been the key difference, the fact that I’ve been able to get the ball to the rim so many times.”
In the Lakers, as usual, LeBron James was the most outstanding man and practically the only stable figure in a sea of irregularities. With 34 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, the man from Akron pulled his team from start to finish, and in fact was responsible for their coming close to the comeback with 12 points in the last quarter, but the little contribution around him it was once again too heavy a slab. Malik Monk and Austin Reaves contributed 22 and 19 points, respectively, but their help wasn’t enough to make up for the blunders of others.
As is also customary, Russell Westbrook was the other side of the Los Angeles coin. With 2/14 shooting from the field (14.3%), the point guard was once again more of a problem than a solution for his team’s offense, to the point that the Kings’ defense simply let him do certain moments while he focused on shutting down the rest of the attackers. The base finished with 8 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists, numbers that do not compensate for the bad feelings and do not change the feeling that these Lakers, at least until they recover the entire squad, are adrift.
(Cover photo: Harry How/Getty Images)