With the Utah Jazz winning tonight at home against the Brooklyn Nets, the Lakers needed to win tonight’s game to stay tied with the Jazz for the eighth seed. That made tonight’s 103-98 win over the Sacramento Kings even more important. It was going to be a difficult game from the start. The Kings have had one of the best offenses in the league since the All-Star break, and the Lakers defense has been anything but spectacular this season. Without Metta World Peace, everyone would have to step up on defense.
The Lakers had an awful start to the first quarter. Just a minute and 45 seconds into the game, Nash left the game with a strained hamstring. He went straight to the locker room and never returned. Nash’s injury lead to Kobe Bryant playing all but 22.6 seconds of the game. Since Nash is not a good defender, his injury had little to do with how the Lakers defense was in the quarter. They allowed the Kings to shoot 71% from the field. Salmons started 5/5 from the field, good for 13 points. At one point in the quarter, the Kings made ten straight field goals. The Kings had a lead of 37-25 by the end of the quarter.
While the Kings were off to a hot a start, Kobe wasn’t. He started the game 0/5, and didn’t record a point until he hit two free throws with 8:50 left in the second quarter. That seemed to get him going, though. After those two free throws, Kobe came down and hit a layup that tied him with the great Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list. On the Lakers next time down, Kobe hit a free throw line jumper to put him in sole possession of the fourth spot on the scoring list. That jumper also brought the Lakers within one.
After getting angry with some foul/non-foul calls, DeMarcus Cousins picked up a technical foul, something basketball fans have grown accustomed to.
The Lakers took their first lead with 2:25 left in the half on a Steve Blake 3, but it didn’t last long. The Lakers went into half time down by four.
At the start of the third quarter, the Lakers came out on a 7-2 run, and Kobe showed his foot was fine when he threw down a one-handed slam. The Lakers capped off the quarter on a 14-1 run that left them with an 81-75 lead.
The fourth quarter was a blast to watch. Marcus Thornton came out and scored 12 straight points for the Kings. Dwight Howard showed a lot of energy by getting to every rebound it seemed like. Somehow, with a minute left, the Lakers had a two point lead. After Kobe hit 1 of 2 free throws, the Lakers were up by three with 25 seconds remaining. After a timeout, the Kings inbounded the ball. Cousins received the inbounds pass and tried to pump fake Howard from behind the 3 point line. His pump fake was successful, but he jumped into Dwight and got his shot blocked. The ball ended up in Cousins’ hands again, and he took another 3 that clanked off the rim. All Kobe had to do was hit two free throws with 12 seconds left, and the game would be over.
Kobe hit both free throws, and the Lakers were able to hold on.
Although the Lakers were only playing the Kings, this was a big win for them. Kobe only had one turnover in the 47 and a half minutes he played to go along with his 19 points, 9 rebound, and 14 assists. Pau had 12 points and 14 assists. Together, Kobe and Pau accounted for 24 of the Lakers 28 assists. Steve Blake was big, going 5/8 from three for 15 points. Meeks chipped in with 14 points, and Jamison put up 10 points and 7 rebounds.
The star of the game was Dwight Howard. He showed all kinds of energy. He grabbed 15 rebounds to go with his 24 points. His defense wasn’t too bad, either. He had 5 blocks in the game.
Tonight was a must-win game, and the Lakers handled business. They remain in 9th place because the Jazz own the tiebreak between the two teams. Lets all hope the Lakers can keep their turnovers down and play some defense when the Dallas Mavericks come into town.
This is my first piece as a writer for Lake Show Life. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or just want to read about the Lakers, follow me on Twitter @Caleb_Cottrell.