The Kings were gifted a golden opportunity to jump up in the standings after San Antonio, New Orleans, and Golden State all lost Thursday. They had a winnable game in front of them as the Lakers came to town without Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
But instead of embracing the offering from the schedule gods, Sacramento didn’t come out ready to play. The Kings had their last lead two minutes into the game and were down double digits for the entire second half in a 115-94 loss. Other than Harrison Barnes, who finished with 26 points (and five rebounds and five assists) on 9-of-10 shooting, no starter had a good game.
The Lakers delivered the first hit, building at 26-13 lead. The Kings were repeatedly beaten the glass, as their smaller lineup couldn’t stop L.A. from getting second chances. Marc Gasol was also carving the Sacramento defense up with his passing. Combine that with four first-quarter turnovers — that resulted in eight points — and it was easy to see why the Kings were down big early.
But the second unit came in and actually settled things down. Moe Harkless served as a secondary facilitator, and that allowed Barnes to get to work against smaller players in the post. Delon Wright and Terence Davis chipped in five points, the Lakers stopped making threes, and the Kings trimmed the deficit to two by the end of the period.
Unfortunately, once the starters got back in, the defense again fell apart. Sacramento allowed the road team to live in the paint to the tune of 21 shot attempts at the rim. If it weren’t for Barnes’ 22 points, the Kings would have been in much worse trouble. Consider that Barnes had a plus-minus of 0, and all four other Sacramento starters were minus-14 or worse.
The Kings ended the half down 12 despite only turning the ball over six times. However, they were outrebounded 31-17 and shot 5-of-15 from 3-point range.
The third quarter didn’t bring any improvements. Wright popped off for 10 points, but Barnes cooled off, and De’Aaron Fox continued to have difficulty with Dennis Schröder’s pressure. Other than Wright, the team shot 6-of-17 from the field.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Kings were basically in extended garbage time. Perhaps they would have been able to mount a comeback with some hot shooting. Instead, they shot 10-of-35 from distance while the Lakers made 17-of-33. When a team that has been putting up bricks from 3-point range shoots that well, there really isn’t much that can be done.
Sacramento really needed a win tonight with the Bucks coming tomorrow. Alas, it seems like their latest 7-in-8 win streak is destined to be followed by another losing spell. Then again, the only thing that has been consistent for the Kings this season is their inconsistency.