The Lakers spoiled the Kings’ playoffs hopes and best road effort in a 106-111 win over Sacramento, in Los Angeles on March 24.
“We thought we had it figured out but [the Lakers] played a at a higher level than us tonight.” Sacramento Kings guard Buddy hield said after the loss. “There’s no excuse.”
Hield scored 18 points along with three assists and six rebounds but it wasn’t enough to stop the Lakers hot third quarter which included Kyle Kuzma’s 21 points, on 7-of-8 shooting. Kuzma helped the Lakers secure a 28-39 advantage out of halftime. He finished the night with 29 points and six rebounds.
The Lakers outpaced the Kings and finished with 31 fast break points compared to Sacramento’s 20 in the same category.
“They had our number this season, going 3-1 against us.” Kings head coach Dave Joerger said after the loss. “They’re awfully long and did a good job.”
Sacramento entered the contest versus their Pacific Division rival in the ninth spot, trailing six games from the final Western Conference playoff seed. The King’s playoff pipedream got even more distant after the Lakers delivered a defeat only a few days after having their own playoffs mathematically eliminated in Friday’s loss to the Nets.
Still, Joerger said he was proud of his team for fighting. The Lakers entered the fourth quarter with a 77-87 lead but the Kings would make them work through the final minute.
The Kings head coach credited his team for forcing turnovers on the second night of a back to back. Sacramento forced 16 Lakers turnovers but only commited 6 of their own.
The Kings also got 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench from 2018 No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III. In the fourth quarter, Bagley hit a few shots that kept the Kings alive. This included a 25-footer that brought the Kings within 98-94 with 6:46 remaining in the fourth.
Bogdan Bogdanovic also came up big off the bench with 17 points four assists for Sacrament. Bogdanovic hit a three before Bagley brought it within four in the fourth. He also answered a LeBron James’ missed three by driving past the King and scoring a which brought Sacramento within 96-98 just outside the six minute mark.
The Lakers would stretch the lead to six after two Aled Caruso free throws followed by a Caruso layup at the four minute mark. Hield would again bring the game within three after his three pointer with 3:35 left.
That was about as close as the Kings would get until Bogdanovic hit a three with 17.3 seconds remaining in the contest. Sacramento trailed 106-104 before James would stretch the lead to four at the free line. James ended up scoring six of the Lakers final seven points at the free lone. The King finished with 29 points, along with 11 assists and 11 rebounds.
“He is the face of the NBA,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said about LeBron’s performance in the playoff-meaningless win. “He’s aware of that and I think he takes that responsibility very seriously.”
As for the Lakers, they started the game with their 23rd different starting lineup of the season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope entered the lineup and registered 16 points with four assists.
JaVale McGee also started fresh off his best performance as a Laker in the loss to the Nets. Still, McGee finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.
“I’m Just trying to stay in the right places and my teammates are finding me,” McGee said about his second consecutive outstanding performance.
LeBron said that the team has to reward McGee by getting him lobs in the paint when he is active on defense.
“We’re very good when JaVale is quarterbacking the whole thing.” James also said about McGee’s efforts helping the rest of the team’s defense.
The Lakers will play another home game versus the Washington Wizards on March 26 at the Staples Center.