The series of four wins in a row is already forgotten to the Lakers, since they bow for the second time in a row, and this time on the floor of the modest Kings (125-116).
However, LeBron James’ teammates had started the match well, and the return of Stanley Johnson had allowed them to sign a 9-0 to escape (23-15). Malik Monk is 100% on shots, and the Lakers take advantage of Austin Reaves’ heat stroke to increase the gap to +12 (51-39) in the second quarter. The ball is circulating well, there is spirit, and we started off on a solid footing.
Except that suddenly, nothing … While the Lakers led by 14 points, they cash an 8-0 just before the break. Davion Mitchell brings defense and punch, and the Fox-Haliburton duo slump into the Lakers’ racket. Confirmation of this trend back from the locker room since the Kings start with a 5-0. We are on a 13-0 straddling the two halves, and this series turns into … 24-3!
On a 3-point Harrison Barnes, the Kings sign a 15-0 and take 13 points ahead (92-79). LeBron is clumsy, even on throws, and Russell Westbrook is ghostly. Only young people, like Johnson, Monk or Reaves, are at their best, but that does not defend, and especially Sacramento is playing well.
Buddy Hield knocks out the Lakers with a dunk and a 3-point at the end of a one-way quarter (101-90). Thanks to Reaves, then the LeBron-Monk duo, the Lakers will believe in the hold-up, and reduce the gap to two units 90 seconds from the end (118-116). For the Kings, it is a real test while the Lakers are on an 8-0, and it is Fox then especially Chimezie Metu with a big 3-points in the axis which sets fire to the room, and validates the victory of Sacramento (125-116).
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– A one-way third quarter. The Kings scored 40 points in the third quarter, including a 15-0 in the middle of the quarter. The Lakers were frozen in attack as well as in defense, and De’Aaron Fox punished them.
– The Westbrook problem. The matches follow and are similar for Russell Westbrook. 2 out of 14 shooting last night, but especially 8 out of 40 over the last three matches! And he doesn’t add much elsewhere, as if he’s not on the same wavelength as the others. The leaders will have to really ask themselves the question of keeping it or not until the end of the season …
– The Lakers break even mid-season. 21 wins, 21 losses. So this is the Lakers ‘record at mid-season, and it’s LeBron James’ worst record since his rookie year!
TOPS / FLOPS
✅⛔Lebron james. Admittedly, LeBron signs yet another game at 30 points and more, the 11th in 12 games, and he gave his all until the end. But… his 3 of 12 on 3-point shots and his 5 of 10 on free throws are a blemish. In defense, he « rests » even if he tries to fill in gaps. But at 37, he can’t be everywhere. Frustrated, he was the first to join the locker room.
✅The Fox-Haliburton tandem. Their complementarity is more and more evident with this association between speed and composure, aggressiveness and vista. The two took advantage of the Lakers’ defensive largesse to make a difference in the second half.
✅Austin reaves. This is the real satisfaction of this meeting on the Lakers side. Carmelo Anthony injured, he was the joker off the bench, and he brings enthusiasm to the game. At the end of the match, he took risks, proof of his nerve and his confidence. It is really a Caruso-like in the energy it brings.
⛔Russell westbrook. Since the start of the season, we find excuses for him, but his 12 rebounds and his 6 assists, or even his only lost ball, do not compensate for his clumsiness: 20% on shots for four matches. Visually, he is a free electron, who runs everywhere, and gets rid of the ball at times when his teammates do not necessarily expect it … Defensively, he has never held Fox or Haliburton while he is the first curtain.
Sacramento (17-27) : possibility to follow up with the Rockets reception on Friday.
LA Lakers (21-21) : break until Saturday before a trip to Denver.