Remember when Sacramento Kings vs, Los Angeles Lakers games were headlining on NBC, ABC, and TNT? When two of the league's best teams would go to head-to-head, and the whole country would be watching? This was nothing like those games (outside of a few vintage Kobe calls). The Lakers, who kickstarted the Kings' recent losing streak a few games back, rolled into Sacramento tonight. And they brought an opportunity for revenge along for the ride.
Not just revenge for the last game. But revenge over Robert Horry. Revenge over Kobe Bryant's travel/pushoff/out-of-bounds game winner a few seasons back. Revenge over the flocks of Lakers fans that muster up the nerve to invade our arena, year after year. And tonight, the Kings finally got their revenge (not really... at all).
The Kings started out hot, building a double-digit lead in the first. But, as we know, that is a death wish with this team. The Lakers stormed back, and built their own double-digit lead in the third quarter. Ben McLemore, outside of a dominating 2-minute run by Kobe, had his way with Bryant on both offense and defense. While the Kings' "Big Two" did their thing, Ben was the MVP of the game. His 10-18 shooting, while great, really isn't even showing how good he was, as he shot 3 or 4 wide open daggers that clanked out at the end of the game. DeMarcus Cousins, who still isn't at full strength, and got quite winded at times, still managed to put up 29 points and 14 rebounds. Rudy Gay had a great offensive night, sans a couple of bad shots, and a couple of ill-advised fouls on Nick Young.
The Lakers are an interesting bunch. Seeing as the league continues to insist that fans want to watch them nationally, I've caught at least a portion of most of their games this season. They're a much better team when Kobe is either distributing or simply out of the game all together, but they insist on using the 36-year-old aging veteran like he's still in his twenties. And you won't see too many opposing teams complaining about this strategy.
Tonight, Kobe mostly helped the Kings by chipping in nine turnovers to his eight field goals on thirty attempts. Nick Young, who's nickname I refuse to pollute Sactown Royalty with, hit some ridiculously lucky shots, and made sure everyone heard about it. And their role players did about what you'd expect them to do with limited touches.
It wasn't a pretty win. The Kings did everything they could to let L.A. back into the game in the last minute, and luckily failed in that attempt. As has been the trend, the Kings' bench was largely ineffective once again. And there were plenty of ill-advised plays, but for the most part, the Kings took care of the ball. Especially when you look at the astronomical turnover numbers we'd been putting up throughout the month of December. The ball movement, when it was on, was a fun thing to behold. And, Ben McLemore had a few highlights that might make it on the top-ten lists tonight. So, with some good, and some bad, I will take this win, especially given our recent rough patch and drama. Any win over the Lakers is a good thing.