In this most backward of seasons, up is down and winning is losing. If ever there was a must lose game for the Lakers, tonight was it. The Sacramento Kings were competing with the Lakers for the Western Conference’s worst record. A loss to the Kings would have put some distance in the standings and increased the likelihood of attaining a top 5 pick in a loaded draft. But competitors don’t think like that.
Days after two time champions Pau Gasol and Jordan Farmar were critical of the coaching staff, the Lakers overcame sloppy defense, turnovers, and inconsistent play to outlast the Kings 126-122 at a raucous Staples Center.
In the first quarter Gasol came out looking spry, running the floor with ease, and being decisive in the post. He made perhaps his most memorable play of the season, filling the lane and flushing home a gorgeous alley oop from Jodie Meeks. Gasol is making the case that he is still a $10 million dollar player. He scored 10 points. Behind strong defensive play in the passing lanes, the Lakers built an early 18-13 lead with 6:16 left in the period. The Kings’ Isaiah Thomas then attacked the Lakers’ porous interior defense, scoring 8 points on a variety of layups. Rudy Gay and Derrick Williams led an 18 to 9 run to close out the period giving the Kings a 31-27 lead after 1.
The Kings continued their momentum with an 11-3 spurt to open the 2nd quarter leading by as much as 12, 42-30. Jordan Farmar brought the Lakers back hitting 3 consecutive three pointers and assisting on 3 other scores, closing the gap to 46-42 with 6:33 remaining in the half. When Farmar left the game, replaced by Kendall Marshall, the Kings took over down the stretch, as Thomas led a 13-2 run to end the half. The Kings led 65-54 even though the Lakers shot 55% from the floor and 50% from 3. Pau Gasol had 18 points but only 2 rebounds and 0 blocks. Farmar scored 11, on 4-5 shooting, with 4 assists. Jodie Meeks had 10.Rudy Gay paced the Kings with 15 points.
Meeks was the Lakers offense for most of the third quarter, scoring 12 points and leading a 12-4 run tightening the Kings lead to 75-71 with 7:47 remaining. As a microcosm of the game, the Kings responded to the Lakers’ run with a 17-6 run of their own. Kendall Marshall’s limitations are exposed against the league’s better point guards and Isaiah Thomas had his way, penetrating the paint repeatedly. Jordan Farmar re-entered the game and, along with Marshon Brooks, restored order. The former Nets’ teammates scored 21 points to close the quarter. The Kings still led 99-95. The Lakers made 9 three pointers in the period.
The closing quarter began like the previous one with Farmar and Brooks playing well off each other. They were dominant. Wesley Johnson also pitched in by controlling the boards and cutting to the rim for layups. The Kings sat Thomas for a long stretch and their offense stagnated because of it. Brooks looked the part of primary scorer with 13 points in the quarter and 3 assists. His deliberate, Harden-esque style was too much for the Kings’ smallish guards. At one point the Lakers made 10 consecutive three pointers, eventually breaking the record for most 3 pointers made in Franchise history with 19 makes at a blistering 70% rate.
Farmar had a career high 30 points, with 8 threes and 9-14 overall from the field. He also dished out 7 assists with only 2 turnovers. Marshon Brooks had 23 points in 26 minutes. Pau Gasol was quiet in the second half but still had 22 points, 6 assists, and two blocks. Wesley Johnson was all around solid with 12 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks. Jodie Meeks was a perfect 8-8 from the field and scored 22 points. Overall the Lakers shot 60% from the field with 35 assists, 11 blocks, and 17 turnovers.
For the Kings, Isaiah Thomas led the way with 26 points and 8 assists. Rudy Gay poured in 32 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, and Derrick Williams scored 26 points with 12 rebounds.
The Lakers play Monday against the Trailblazers in Portland.
Tags: Los Angeles Lakers