It was an electric night for the backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as the duo put on the smoothest offensive effort we’ve seen on the season thus far. This was a high-producing, defensively driven contest from start to finish that Sacramento earned from the second half onward. Every man who checked in was essential to the victory, giving the Kingdom a morale boost over a Western Conference foe.
LeBron James seemed extra bouncy tonight, leading a 9-0 Lakers run in the first frame pushed by a scorching Malik Monk. Reeling for defensive answers, Sacramento were able to rely on rookie Davion Mitchell for an explosive end to the first quarter 34-29 with three consecutive plays on both ends of the floor.
Davion put Reaves on his knees pic.twitter.com/wX3dODI6cd— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 13, 2022
Sacramento opened the second frame evening the score, bleeding over from Mitchell’s first quarter surge. The Kings were, per usual, in questionable defensive schemes on the perimeter that led to collapse in what went from a tie game to a double-digit Laker lead.
Nobody in purple and black other than Haliburton could seem to get it going beyond the arc, Sacramento shooting just four 3-pointers in the first two quarters of action. It was the most blaring piece of offense gone missing, as the the Lakers were able to stroke the three-ball consistently throughout the contest. However, points in the paint would prove to be the bread and butter of tonight’s victory.
Mitchell and Fox were able to string together firm, aggressive offense - closing out the half 67-61, Sacramento cutting the deficit in half on an 8-0 run.
The momentum heading into halftime was met with continued success with Sacramento extending their 8-0 run to a 13-0 sprint keeping the contest close in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
Marvin Bagley III’s tenacious grit crashing the glass and bringing an offensive dose of energy the Kings desperately needed was one of the most refreshing pieces of the game. His growth over the course of this season has been transformative before the eyes of the Kingdom as Bagley’s redemption arc continues to take shape.
LeBron James’ relentless gravitational pull brought the Kings back to Earth following a 77-77 tie that swung the momentum back Los Angeles’ way. Fox poured 23 points into the ball game through three quarters, keeping his foot on the gas in a vintage performance.
A 19-3 run gave Sacramento a 87-79 lead led by the Fox-Hali tandem, who were playing with a sense of effective urgency that was beautiful to watch.
Pushing the pace was imminent from both teams as the third quarter wound down entering into the fourth frame, with Los Angeles closing the quarter on offense with effective shooting beyond the arc. Sacramento responded with a Buddy Buckets splash and an eleven-point lead to end their 40-point quarter.
With twelve minutes of basketball left to be played, it was a dandy heading down the stretch as Los Angeles answered back cutting the lead to just six points. Rookie Austin Reaves was powerful in the final frame, shooting back-to-back 3-pointers to sink the Lakers’ teeth back into the game.
Crunch time was the biggest test of the Kings’ season thus far - posing the challenge of closing out a game with a strong lead.
The Kings led 115-107 just under the five minute mark, and it was the deciding point of resilience that would Sacramento would either take the game or lose it in familiar fashion.
An 8-0 Laker run left the Kings feeling far too close for comfort, shaving Sacramento’s once double-digit lead down to a mere four points. Back-to-back buckets from Fox and Chimezie Metu surged the Kings once more as they led 123-116 with 46.7 seconds to play.
Sacramento sealed the deal with 24 seconds on the game clock, tying their season series with LA 2-2 in what might be an important split down the stretch of the regular season.
Most importantly - #BeatLA.