The Lakers have now lost five games in a row.
L.A. started their home stand against the Sacramento Kings. Even without LeBron James, it seemed like they had a chance to finally get a W. Instead, they acquired an L as the Kings swiped the win away in the last couple of minutes, 120-114.
Yup. I used the term “swiped” because “SwipaTheFox” AKA De’Aaron Fox had an incredible clutch performance against these Lakers. I’ll get to that in a bit.
The game started out ugly (again, this seems common for Laker games) as both teams scored 23 each in the first. They had 7 turnovers in the first 6 minutes and at times, it felt like the basketball played was at a 5th and 6th grade recess level.
But as we know about the Lakers, they somehow look like an elite NBA team in the second quarter. We had besties Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook making threes. Lonnie Walker IV, who returned in this game, got into the act as well. And Anthony Davis was nothing short of dominant, scoring 12 of his 17 first half points in the second period. The Lakers led, 55-42, and it looked like we might get a runaway (rare) win for the City of Angels.
Except the Sacramento Kings didn’t let that happen. Kevin Huerter and De’Aaron Fox started catching fire and scored the last 17 Sacramento Kings points in the half. Sactown finished the first half with a 14-5 run and that dreaded third period for the Lakers was looming.
While the Kings did take the lead back in the third, the Lakers managed to turn it into a back-and-forth affair. It was notable, though, that Fox was really lighting it up; he scored 11 more points himself in that period. The Lakers lost the quarter again but it wasn’t disastrous this time around. L.A. took an 88-87 lead into the fourth.
After a couple of quick buckets by the Kings to start the fourth, the Lakers managed to turn it into a scoring frenzy, which the Lakers get too comfortable at. Wenyen Gabriel and Walker were getting some buckets in the paint. On the other side, it was Fox and Terence Davis II getting to the hole. With the Lakers going small, it was hard to challenge Sacramento when they went into the trenches.
The Lakers did go ahead, 114-112, after a Westbrook three with 2:13 left. But they never scored again.
Fox broke down the defense and was left all alone in the hallway.
That gave the Kings the lead. Fox followed it up with a tough turnaround J. Lakers tried to counter with a quick three but it didn’t go. Sacramento scored the last 8 points of this contest. And now, the Kings have won 5 of 7.
De’Aaron Fox couldn’t be stopped by the Lakers. Sometimes, it felt like they didn’t even try. But to the tune of 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 12 assists, why wouldn’t you try to contain him at the least? It was one of the best clutch performances we’ve seen this season from anybody. Coach Mike Brown should thank him for it. In the meantime, Domantas Sabonis went for a 21-10-6 performance that seemed a little quiet. Huerter had 16 points after a slow start.
As for the Lakers? Anthony Davis did have 24 points, 14 rebounds, three dimes, three blocks, and two steals. But the dominant side we saw of him from the second quarter went quietly into the night yet again. He did get the ball a bit more in the fourth quarter but the Kings predictably sent two to defend him. The Lakers were especially bad in executing late in the game with the players not moving enough (especially when Davis was two-teamed) or taking too much time from the shot clock before hoisting it up. It almost felt like they were playing not to lose. Davis only scored 7 points in the second half.
Westbrook didn’t shoot well and also had 5 turnovers but his aggressiveness got him 21 points and 11 dimes (a technical foul, too, after a hilarious glare at Huerter). Austin Reaves played admirably, scoring 19 points and making all 5 of his three-pointers. Lonnie Walker IV also had 19. I’d like to note that young Max Christie got 17 minutes and has seemingly passed Kendrick Nunn in the rotation. He had good moxie on both ends. Christie ended with 7 points and four boards.
The scoring was not the problem. Heck, they shot well from three at .400 (10 for 25). But it’s the execution late in the game that cost them at both ends. They’ve lost a few games because of that. Help out a double-teamed teammate. Run pick and rolls. Start doing something early in the clock. Communicate on defense.
They had a shot at this. But there’s no grey area here when it comes to game results; you either win or you lose. And the Lakers now have two wins and 10 losses. They are now tied with the Houston Rockets for the worst record in the league.
In my game preview, I referenced that the Kings haven’t made the playoffs in 16 years. Well, with the way this Lakers season is going, it might as well also be 16 years. Because holy hell, the losses keep piling up and there is just no end in sight. .500 is getting farther and farther away.
And as the great Daman Rangoola said:
I couldn’t have said it any better. The Lakers are spectacular in that when they win, they have the highest of highs and win championships.
And they’re spectacular in losing, too. They lose hard. And they do it with hall-of-fame players.
That’s… impressive in itself.