It was the Lakers players, not Mike D’antoni, who made a big deal about getting to 31 wins. Perhaps D’antoni knew the truth. This is the worst team in Los Angeles Lakers history. No Los Angeles Lakers team is worse than they are. It is a fact. Just look at how they competed against Milwaukee (last week) and Sacramento on Wednesday. It is evidence of their collective ineptitude. Wednesday night in Sacramento the superlative Kings guard, Isaiah Thomas, did not play. That left only two 20 point scorers the Lakers had to worry about, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. But it was Ray McCallum, the second round draft pick who would toss in 20+ points and make the Lakers night more miserable than it would have been otherwise. He hit jumpers. He drove the lane. He hit runners. He was complimented by Ben McLemore, the Kings 2013 lottery pick who got the Kings going, taking an early 4 point lead. Without Pau Gasol who is still struggling from the effects of vertigo and Chris Kaman battling a calf injury, the Lakers were bullied inside by DeMarcus Cousins and Reggie Evans. But Kent Bazemore got off to a good start running the fast break and driving to the rim. He had 5 points early and the Lakers took a one point lead. Wes Johnson who has been mostly invisible the past week had a three. But Rudy Gay finished at the rim with a sensational dunk to tie the score. Both Sacramento and the Lakers pushed the ball and why not? Vacation in two weeks. Just go and play. But even Nick Young wished he had that airball he tossed up back. It was a shocking sight from Nick but not a surprise, a hangover from his 40 point game. The Lakers best offense was driving the ball and Jodie Meeks did it better than anyone. He made his first three shots. Neither of these teams are very good. McCallum drove to the rim unimpeded. Robert Sacre dunked the ball with no defenders around. McCallum drove to the rim again. Jodie Meeks dribbled in the paint, dished it to Sacre for a dunk and free throw. The Kings led by one at end of the first quarter, 24-23.
A MarShon Brooks sighting: he made a three to give the Lakers a lead early in the second quarter 29-26. Note: Mike D’antoni exiled Brooks to the bench and then continued to complain that his team did not have enough athleticism on the floor. At the nine minute mark the Lakers called timeout after the Kings went on a 9-0 run to take a six point lead. First there was a Travis Outlaw three. Then a driving layup by McCallum. Then a block of Nick Young. Then a McCallum jumpshot. Then another layup. But these are the Kings. Two minutes later the Lakers were down by one. But these also are the Lakers. A Kendall Marshall bad decision and his shot was blocked. And then a Marshall turnover in the paint led to a three point play. The Kings were up by seven again. Until a 4 point play Nick Young style cut the lead to three. The Lakers disastrous point guards, especially when called on to defend, showed up on cue. McCallum had the night of his life. It was the game of his dreams and being defended by Kendall Marshall who plays like a little old man was the perfect matchup. A second 9-0 run had the Kings up by 12. Jodie Meeks was the only player out there with any kind of game. His three cut the lead to six. He had 11 in the first half. But another Kings dunk with Lakers players staring at each other in confusion kept the no defense train rolling. The Keep Mike D’antoni For One More Year crowd must have their eyes closed. Ray McCollum fittingly ended the quarter with a three and the Kings led 60-52.
At halftime the Lakers used the old energy excuse and the second night of a back to back excuse as to why they appeared so helpless. The Kings struggled with their offense early in the third because McCollum had cooled off. The Lakers took advantage. And eight point lead was suddenly three after a Jodie Meeks long jumper. Then a Jordan Hill mid range cut the lead to one. DeMarcus Cousins, who had been silent all game, finished a three point play. Cousins is a bad mismatch for Jordan Hill on both ends. In one of his better moments on the floor he had a beautiful arcing 15 footer over Hill to give the Kings a six point lead 73-67. Two plays in the third quarter were symptomatic of the Lakers misery. McCallum missed a free throw, chased down the miss and hit an open jumper. A few plays later Bazemore went rim to rim and missed a driving layup as he was flying out of bounds, Jordan Hill could not corral the rebound and it led to a Kings fastbreak. In fact this is Bazemore’s biggest weakness. He has not yet learned how to control his speed; he plays too fast, similar to John Wall when he was a rookie. There is a difference between being quick and being fast. As for Ray McCallum, he was nearing a 30+ night. Bazemore was guarding him now. At the end of the quarter the Lakers trailed by double digits, 87-76.
We’ve seen this movie before. The only offense is bad three point shots. No offensive rebounding. No ball movment. Rudy Gay controlled the game early in the fourth quarter and was responsible for a Nick Young technical. Nick thinks he should get a foul call if someone breathes on him. Back to back threes from Young and Johnson cut the lead to seven. But the Lakers defended Rudy Gay with Nick Young and no one rotated to help. You know how that went. More Young frustration as he tried to finish in the paint but that is not his strength, concentration with contact. He stays on the perimeter for a reason. In this game he missed 11 shots. Perhaps that was why in the last three minutes the Lakers lineup was Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre. Not going to stop many teams with that lineup. A 10-2 Lakers run was halted by DeMarcus Cousins. But the Lakers kept at it, and had a chance to cut the lead to one but Kent Bazemore missed a layup at the rim with 27 seconds left. They couldn’t rebound a McCallum missed free throw and that was that. Loss number 50.