Remember 2002 Lakers/Kings? That series had it all: competition, controversy (thanks Tim…..), and Robert Horry’s insane buzzer beater. A lot has changed since then: the Lakers aren’t the powerhouse they were, the Kings got a new arena, and all of their fans are now rooting for the Warriors. This game was nothing like that playoff series from 14 years ago. It was sloppy for both teams on both sides of the ball, with the Lakers falling behind early. The Kings had a 19 point lead at one point, but the purple and gold were able to use a strong second half to win in the Golden 1 Center (aka Staples Center North based on how many Laker fans were in attendance) by the score of 101-91
The Lakers started off with a Mozgov bucket off a Nick Young assist (I KNOW. THOSE EXIST NOW). Boogie started off hot with 10 points within 6 minutes which included 2 3’ pointers, and a couple assists. The offense was stagnant as Los Angeles lacked any semblance of off ball movement, and in general not hitting their shots (37% from the field). The defense did not do too much better, leaving shooters open behind the arc, not making switches, and well, DeMarcus Cousins doing DeMarcus Cousins things. Sacramento led by 14 after 12. This was a very ugly quarter. It honestly might have looked as ugly as Matt Barnes’s hair. I get that Thanksgiving is coming up, but now is not the time to have your hair look like a wishbone.
The second quarter wasn’t anything notable as well. Boogie ended up abusing the Lakers to end up with 18 points after 24. There was a sequence where the Lakers had 3 straight turnovers that led to the Kings scoring off them. Sacramento had 20 points off turnovers. Randle and Russell started to close off the quarter as D’Angelo had 5 straight, and Randle ended the half with 3 straight free throws after getting the rebounding and drawing the shooting foul on DeMarcus Cousins.
In the third, Boogie went without any points. The Lakers still had their share of careless turnovers that kept them behind the kings for the quarter, not being able to capitalize on a cold shooting quarter for the rest of the home team. The Lakers second unit did a good job to close out the quarter. There was a great team sequence that Larry Nance got the steal, and while on his back, passed to Black who passed to Clarkson for the three to cut the lead to just 3. Held Sacramento to just 2 points for the last 4 minutes that saw the kings only go 8 offensive possessions without scoring. Black ended the half with a buzzer beating putback off a Nance Jr. 3 miss. The Kings held the advantage: 73-70
The final quarter saw the Lakers take the lead and never looking despite the Kings trying to mount a comeback behind DeMarcus Cousins’ 10 4th quarter points. The highlight of the final frame had to be the alley-oop from Brandon Ingram to Timofey Mozgov. Ingram also showed how his length can be a huge problem for opposing offenses as he had a defensive possession where he covered the cutter and then splitting to alter the shot on the same possession. Lou Williams went on to just take over the 4th quarter like he has in multiple other games this season and ended up with a +13, the highest on the team (Ingram also had +13). DeMarcus brought the Kings within 5 on a 5-0 run of his own, even having a play where he crossed up Mozgov and got through Nick Young (who tried to take a charge……I KNOW RIGHT? I AM SO PROUD) for a basket and the foul. Despite the effort from Boogie, the Lakers held onto the lead and ultimately won the game.
Timofey Mozgov showed his worth tonight by holding DeMarcus Cousins to 0 points in the third quarter. He did get help through double teams but I thought he really did a fantastic job on helping to anchor the defense as the Lakers chipped away at the lead throughout the 3rd quarter. Boogie was having his ways against the smaller Larry Nance Jr. and Tarik Black, as they did what they could defensively but were not able to stop them. Mozgov did a great job setting screens as well to help free up shooters and was also good out of the PnR. His lob from Ingram was also incredible to watch.
D’Angelo Russell only played 23 minutes but he did score 17 points, shooting 7-12. There was a lot of flack online with how Russell did not get too many minutes tonight, but Luke did say before that there would be games where he wouldn’t close out with the young guys. Lou Williams got the call over Russell because he had the hot hand (21 points) and this coaching decision ultimately led to the victory. Although I would like to see Russell play more, especially in close game situations. But I’m not the Lakers coach.
The Nick Young redemption tour continued as he ended with 16 points on 6-11 shooting, 13 points in the second half. He’s been fighting for rebounds, playing defense, and playing smart. Been pretty impressed with Uncle P and hope this carries on throughout the rest of the season.
Julius Randle showed his haters wrong some more, going 15-8-5and getting into a scuffle with Boogie after the game. I say scuffle, but it was mostly Boogie trying to start something and Randle laughing.
Lakers play the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, November 12 at 4:00 PM
Kings play the Portland Trailblazers on Friday, November 11 at 7:00 PM