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Lakers 99 - Kings 97: Heartbreak in Los Angeles

The Kings lost a close one in L.A.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings played a hell of a game on Friday night. Yes, mistakes were made down the stretch and the execution was poor at times, but a squad missing their two cornerstone players walked onto the home floor of the best team in the NBA and battled to the very end. LeBron James was his usual superstar self, scoring 29 points, including the game-winning free throws with 5.5 second remaining, and he also dished out 11 assists for the Lakers. Richaun Holmes was key for the Kings, recording 17 points and eight rebounds, while Bogdan Bogdanovic put in 18 points, three rebounds, five assists, and two steals off of the bench. Harrison Barnes had a chance to tie the game as time expired, but he tripped down the lane and his shot attempt was swallowed by some questionable defense courtesy of Anthony Davis.

Quarter Breakdown

The Kings came out of the gate playing a sound, fundamental game, a trend they’ve displayed over the last half-dozen games or so, and that brand of basketball granted them an early 9-2 lead behind a trio of triples from Nemanja Bjelica and Buddy Hield. The two Western Conference powerhouses (just let me have this one, okay?), continued to battle throughout the period, but Sacramento never surrendered the lead, and Harrison Barnes’ half-court buzzer beater granted the Kings a 10-point lead after twelve minutes of play.

The second quarter started off poorly for the Kings, as the Lakers immediately opened with a 6-0 run; however, Dewayne Dedmon and Yogi Ferrell helped to weather the storm with solid play on both ends of the floor. Ferrell was especially effective in his time, scoring a quick seven points on four field goal attempts, as well as taking a charge and dishing out one assist. His three-point shot four minutes into the period gave Sacramento their largest advantage of the game at 42-29, but the Kings decided to start their traditional third quarter meltdown a bit early, surrendering a 14-0 run led by Kyle “I occasionally make a three-point shot on extremely low efficiency, so I’m now known as a shooter” Kuzma and LeBron James. After briefly falling behind the Lakers for less than 30 seconds, the Kings worked their way back in front and headed into halftime with a 50-49 lead.

In a bit of a plot twist, the third period wasn’t the complete disaster that fans have come to expect, although the Lakers did win the quarter 25-21 to take a 74-71 heading into the fourth. Anthony Davis and LeBron James showed why they’re such a dangerous pair, combining to score 16 points, while Bogdan Bogdanovic put up eight of his own. As was the case throughout the majority of the second half, the Kings hung around but could never quite overtake the Lakers when they they crept within a point or two.

With Trevor Ariza missing the game due to a groin injury, Nemanja Bjelica in foul trouble, and Harrison Barnes needing a rest, Wenyen Gabriel found himself checking LeBron James early in the fourth quarter, and that match-up went about as well as one would expect. Despite Wenyen’s best efforts, James scored seven points in less than 90 seconds, forcing Luke Walton to spend a timeout as the Kings found themselves facing an eight point deficit with eight minutes remaining in the game. Unlike their disposition early in the season, Sacramento refused to back down from their opponent and worked their way right back into the game. Richaun Holmes scored some huge buckets down the stretch, and Bogdan Bogdanovic put the team on his shoulders in the waning moments of the game, but late game mistakes proved too costly for the Kings. Between a couple of foolish turnovers, an airballed, forced Buddy Hield three-pointer, and a ticky-tack foul being called on Harrison Barnes with 5.5 second remaining to give the Lakers the game-winning free throws, Sacramento wasn’t able to seal the victory. Barnes did have a shot to tie the game on the final possession, but he either tripped over his own feet or those of LeBron James, and the officials swallowed their whistles on a non-vertical, “vertical” defensive play by Anthony Davis.

Plays of the Game

No, I’m not showing that LeBron dunk.

Game Notes

  • Yogi Ferrell played his best game of the season and was a perfect scoring punch off of the bench. He posted 14 points and three assists in 28 minutes.
  • Buddy Hield’s box score didn’t look bad, but his fourth quarter defense and decision-making really hurt the team at times. He allowed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to go off for twelve points in the final period, and Buddy often found himself out of position on the defensive end of the floor. That aspect of the game may rest on his shoulders, but the coaching staff also needs to stop putting the ball in his hands in key moments. Outside of knocking down assisted three-pointers, Hield has never shown a proclivity toward making solid decisions in the clutch.
  • Despite Luke Walton going 11 players deep tonight, Harry Giles played just two minutes and twenty-five seconds, grabbing one rebound and dishing out one assist in his short stint on the floor.
  • At times it felt as though the Kings couldn’t knock down an open three-pointer, especially at the end of the third quarter, but they still finished the game making a stellar 16 of their 39 long-balls, good enough for 41%.
  • The Lakers made 20 out of their 22 free throw attempts, while the Kings made all nine of their own.