Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Kings lost at home on Friday night to the Los Angeles Lakers 106-100. It was game they did not have to lose. It was a game the Kings should have won.
After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said one word was on his mind, “discipline. And, we had none in this game tonight.”
Turnovers and lack of defense in the fourth quarter led to the Kings defeat. The Kings turned to ball over five times in the final period. The Lakers outscored the Kings 25-13 in fourth. That lack of discipline cost Sacramento the 87-81 lead they had after three periods of play.
The game started slow for the Kings. It looked like they might fall back into their habit of falling seriously behind and then having to play catch up later in the game. With 3:19 to play in the first, Isaiah Thomas came into the game for Vasquez and the Kings’ tempo changed dramatically. They went from trailing the Lakers by seven to leading the game by two points (30-28) by the end of the quarter. The crowd knew their team could win the game if they continued to play at that level.
In the second quarter, Thomas continued to lead the way. He played the entire 12 minutes, scored 10 points and dished out three assists. The problem for the Kings became their shot selection and shooting percentage. Sacramento’s field goal shooting dropped to 36.0% (9/25) while the Lakers shot 50.0%. The Kings managed to outscore the Lakers 25-24 in the quarter and took a 55-52 lead with them to locker room at the half.
The Kings came out in the third quarter ready to do battle. They established an eight point lead (68-60) by the 7:39 mark in the period. Then with 6:39 to play, DeMarcus Cousins picked up his fourth personal foul which would ultimately have a dramatic impact on the game as he had to sit on the bench. The rest of the Kings went to work picking up the slack. When Ben McLemore hit back-to-back 3-pointers, it looked like the Kings were poised to beat the Lakers. When the quarter ended, the score was the Kings 87 and the Lakers 81.
Then came the disastrous fourth quarter and the Kings shot just 23.5% (4/17). Isaiah Thomas was 0/4, Cousins was 0/4 and Williams 0/1 from the field. Sacramento turned the ball over five times. They allowed the Lakers to steal the ball five times in the period. The Lakers outscored the Kings 25-13. The Kings ran out of gas, things got ugly and they lost the game 106-100.
“Obviously this isn’t what we worked on, diagrammed or hoped for,” said Michael Malone. “It’s obvious that we have to do a lot more. I thought we had great late-game execution against Golden State. We got whatever we wanted, we scored, and we executed. Tonight, down the stretch, we turned the ball over on almost every possession. It was very disappointing, obviously. We’ll have another chance tomorrow in Utah and we need to regroup to find a way to get a road win.”
DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore led all scorers in the game with 20 points each. Isaiah Thomas tallied 14 points before going cold in the fourth quarter. John Salmons added 13 points; Williams and Thompson had nine points each.
Cousins made it a double-double game with his 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points each. Nick Young scored 14, Wesley Johnson and Steve Blake 13 each and Robert Sacre added 11 points. Blake posted a double-double by adding 10 assists.
The Kings boarded a plane for Salt Lake City after the game. They will play the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. The Jazz were destroyed by the Trail Blazers on Friday night 130-97. On paper, the Kings should have real chance to defeat the Jazz, but that’s on paper. The reality is the game is on road versus a team that is just as hungry for a win as are the Kings.