The Lakers are 2-9 and off to their worst start since 2015-16. They return to Crypto.com Arena for another four-game home stand.
It doesn’t look great for the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re on a four-game losing streak. The offense has gotten a little better in recent games but they’re still the worst in the league. The defense has fallen off quite a bit in the last week or so. They’re nearly guaranteed to be dead in the water after halftime. Anthony Davis seemingly disappears in the second half.
And now, LeBron James is out for this upcoming game due to an adductor strain. He’s listed as day-to-day. And the rain continued to pour as Anthony Davis is now questionable with a non-COVID illness. It’s all hell in Lakerland at the moment. But hey, new day, new game and there’s hope they can turn it around brick by brick. Wait. That’s probably not the right saying to use.
Anyway, said upcoming game is against the 4-6 Sacramento Kings. The Kings have a lot of talent but they’re still sort of searching for who they are. Heck, they’ve probably been searching the last 16 years. Currently, the Kings have the dishonor of holding the longest playoff drought in NBA history. They last made the postseason in 2006. To give a good idea of how long ago that was, LeBron James was finishing up his third season in the NBA and he’s currently in his 20th. Also, Bad Day by Daniel Powter was the #1 song, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest came out in theaters and grossed a billion, and shows like America’s Got Talent, Hannah Montana, and Flavor of Love made their debuts that year.
And who was on that Sacramento Kings team in 2006? Luminaries like Ron Artest (or Metta World Peace), Brad Miller, Mike Bibby, Kevin Martin, Bonzi Wells, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. We really are a long way from that time.
Today’s Sacramento Kings team does have some very talented players. De’Aaron Fox is playing the best ball of his career (25.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.1 dimes per game). Domantas Sabonis is averaging a double-double (16.8 points, 10.4 boards per). Kevin Huerter came over from Atlanta and fit in seamlessly; he’s shooting an incredible .507 from three and averaging 16.6 points.
The rest of their rotation is nothing to sniff at. Davion Mitchell is hoping to follow up from his good rookie campaign. Trey Lyles was acquired in a trade midseason last year from Detroit and is shooting well from three. Harrison Barnes gives them a veteran presence. Their prized rookie Keegan Murray is off to a good start. And Malik Monk (you remember him) left the Lakers to get a nice little deal in Sacramento.
You know what the Lakers need? Shooting. You know who was pretty good at it? Malik Monk. Gotta love that roster construction.
Either way, the Kings are very good in getting buckets; they are 9th in offensive rating at 113.5 points per 100 possessions and 9th in scoring at 115.9 points per game. That’s not a problem. But under new coach (and ex-Lakers coach) Mike Brown, they’re still finding their way defensively (25th in the league, allowing 114.6 points per 100 possessions).
So it’s up to the Lakers to stop them from scoring. As of late, that defense hasn’t been good but it’s there somewhere. Once upon a time, the Lakers were second in defensive rating; now they’re in the middle of the road at 15th.
The Lakers are still last in offensive rating but they’ve scored over 115 points in 4 of their last 6 games. It’s a matter of getting a good balanced game from them. Still, that’s going to be real tough without LeBron and possibly without Davis.
While I did say that the Kings are “searching”, they’ve won 4 of their last 6 games themselves after a disappointing 0-4 beginning. Kings fans would tell you that it would’ve been a 6-game win streak if it weren’t for referee botches. Regardless, the Kings are playing much better than the Lakers (well, to be fair, every team seems to be playing better than the Lakers) and their last game involved an upset over the Cleveland Cavaliers (the Lakers had a chance to snap that winning streak earlier but failed).
Once again, there’s no other way to say it: the Lakers have to play much better in nearly all facets. I’ll emphasize that it’s not a good idea to get into a shootout with the Sacramento Kings. And they really really have to get off the blocks after the halftime break. If Anthony Davis is playing, keep him engaged offensively (especially in the second half). And it would be great if he could stop being passive on the defensive end after halftime. Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, and Troy Brown, Jr. continue to play well but that’s just not enough for the Lakers to win unless they all become Monstars. Still, if they can keep momentum going after the second quarter, they can win this game. Maybe. I don’t know anymore.
Lakers and Kings. It’s not really a renewed rivalry; the Lakers can’t even think about that. It’s about survival at this point. Otherwise, Lakers are 2-10. And that Anthony Davis deal with the Pelicans is sounding worse and worse with each passing moment.