LeBron James and the Lakers survive the Kings on the road

Jan 7, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Trey Lyles (41) holds onto the ball between Los Angeles Lakers guard Max Christie (10) and forward Wenyen Gabriel (35) in the first quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Trey Lyles (41) holds onto the ball between Los Angeles Lakers guard Max Christie (10) and forward Wenyen Gabriel (35) in the first quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers are on fire in 2023, folks. They are 3-0 in the new year and rode the momentum from the last road trip for a four-game winning streak. After the Atlanta Hawks laid down on Friday night to give the Lake Show a 130-114 victory, it was off to Sacramento to play the Kings for the second game of a back-to-back.

LeBron James was questionable until just before game time, but was in the starting lineup and continued not only his solid play but the effort to get more acclimated with Darvin Ham’s motion offense.

In one of the more even offensive performances of the NBA season coming from both sides, the Los Angeles Lakers survive the Sacramento Kings, 136-134 thanks to two free throws late from  Dennis Schroder. It does look like the fortunes are starting to shift the Lake Show’s way these days. There were two questionable calls that went the Lakers’ way.

  • Dennis Schroder drew a foul on DeAaron Fox driving to the basket where it looked like Schroder initiated the contact.
  • DeAaron Fox’s last-ditch effort 3-pointer just missed the back iron BUT Russell Westbrook hit his left elbow after the ball was released.

The Lakers have now won five straight and based on the numbers in the loss column it might be time to start a discussion if this team is a playoff contender if they can tread water on the upcoming East coast trip.

This was a good win for the Lakers against a team that actually acted like they wanted to earn an NBA paycheck…yes Atlanta Hawks, we are talking about you.

The good from the Los Angeles Lakers’ win:  

The entire first half!

It’s not easy sometimes to cover a game on Saturday night when the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t matched up against popular teams like Boston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, or Golden State, but the first half of this game was extremely entertaining, with great play from both sides. Just look at the numbers here. They are incredible!

  • Both teams had four players score in double figures…
  • The Los Angeles Lakers shot 62.8 percent from the field, an eye-popping 69.2 percent from behind the line, and 83.3 percent from the line! Is this the 80’s Lakers team or something?
  • Sacramento knocked down ten shots from the land of the extra point and went to the line 20 times, knocking down 17.
  • The bench production was almost equal with the Lakers holding a slight edge 20-19.    

Some might think there was a lack of defense in this game, but it looks more like what the NBA wanted when they changed the rules to allow players easier access to offense with less physical play. Everyone that touched the floor played well in the schemes of their coaches. When was the last time an NBA game had a score of 73-73 at halftime?

Dennis Schroder is flat-out balling right now!

It’s not like he’s working hard to get his points these days. After dropping 32 points against Miami and following that up with a 21-point performance the night before, he continued his scoring barrage in this one especially from beyond the arc. He tied for the scoring lead with LeBron James with 16 points.

He went to finish with 27 points (8-11 shooting!), 4 rebounds and 2 assists. His confidence to make the drive to the hole in crunch time and knock down free throws (He hit all seven!) was really the key to the game.

Thomas Bryant is becoming a major factor for the Los Angeles Lakers!

This is becoming more than points and rebounds for Bryant. The coaching staff sought out plays down low to make sure that Domantas Sabonis would be working hard on both ends of the floor. He was well on his way to a double-double before halftime before he got into foul trouble. He had six points before the national anthem ended to get the Lakers off on a good start early.

Bryant finished with 29 points (12-14 shooting!), 14 rebounds with a steal and a block. It’s his activity down low with the old-school elbows up high that opposing players do not want any part of.

His hard presence down low is what got Sabonis in foul trouble and threw off his rhythm which set up LeBron James late to foul him out. More on that later!

The bad from the Los Angeles Lakers’ win:  

The Los Angeles Lakers just plain fouled the Sacramento Kings too much!

Both teams were neck and neck with fouls, but the Kings spent more time at the line. It was good that the Kings started missing in the third quarter, but this aspect kept Sacramento around even though the Lakers were much more physical.

The Lakers can’t give up 37 free throws to good teams like that.

Poor Wenyen Gabriel…

In a game where it seemed everyone had it going, Gabriel couldn’t get out of his own way. He fouled out in 13 minutes. As crazy as this sounds, Wenyen scored 6 points (3-5 shooting!), 3 rebounds and one assist. The way this game was going, if he didn’t get saddled with fouls, he would have probably got a double-double himself to complement Thomas Bryant!

DeAaron Fox embarrassed the Laker guards, especially Patrick Beverley! 

34 points, 9 assists with 19 of them in the final 12 minutes. This was on Max Christie but Pat Bev’s listless defense had Darvin Ham going to the rookie in the first place!

The Lakers were lucky he didn’t get those three free throws at the end of the game.

The story from the Los Angeles Lakers’ win:  

LeBron James is now doing what these Lake Show Life post-game reports said he needed to do!

This website was all over LeBron James in the month of December about the impact of his production attributing to wins. It started from the Cleveland game through to Christmas Day. Now, LeBron is starting to play chess instead of checkers. A point that a reader, Dave Higgins noticed and brought up in the comment section of the Atlanta game…

"Hard to believe this is same LeBron that last week this writer said was piling up “meaningless points”. Suddenly he’s a hero because they won? The team continues to fight and that’s all a fan should ask for. They don’t control the roster. All they control is effort."

It’s amazing that some readers have not figured out this concept of basketball yet instead of just looking at box scores. Just look at this play here…

Looks like a simple layup here right? No, because he knew Sabonis had five fouls (It was LeBron that drew the 5th!) and this got Sabonis out of the game with six fouls. Sabonis was killing the Lakers down low scoring 25 points, 12 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists. This play was significant because it allowed the Lakers to pay closer attention to DeAaron Fox who was destroying the guards in the final 12 minutes!

LeBron finished with 37 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal. He didn’t spend the night jacking up side step 3 point shots and drove the ball to the basket especially in the final quarter. But who are we to analyze.

Lakers fans are going to miss Russell Westbrook when he is gone!

During the Lakers’ current stretch they are number one in the NBA in pace and are second overall. Why is that? Russell Westbrook…

The adjustments are still coming but this guy is low-key doing work for the Los Angeles Lakers. Russ finished with 23 points and 15 assists OFF THE BENCH! He is wreaking havoc on the floor and pushing the ball up the floor in amazing fashion.

Russell Westbrook is only the 2nd player to record 20+ points, 5+ rebounds, and 15+ assists off the bench since the stat began to be tracked in 1970-71.

Go ahead and trade him so he can be bought out. The Miami Heat are waiting for him!