There were definitely opportunities for the Sacramento Kings to win this game. A Los Angeles Lakers team missing Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol was certainly one the Kings could compete with. And through one half, it was an evenly played battle, as the two-headed attack of Isaiah Thomas and Patrick Patterson carried the Kings offense. But in the second half, things fell apart. Sacramento’s offense ground to a halt, and defensively, the Kings failed to contest the Lakers shooters. Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake, the only two Lakers reserves to see the floor, buried the Kings with nine three-pointers and helped Los Angeles to a 113-102 victory.
ONE PLAY SINKS KINGS – It’s rare that you can say one play in the middle of the fourth quarter was the difference in an 11-point game. But that may have been the case Sunday. After falling behind by 12 early in the fourth, the Kings used an offensive burst from Marcus Thornton and some tightened defense to pull within two. Momentum had shifted. Toney Douglas swiped an errant pass, kicking off a three-on-one fastbreak as the Kings looked to tie with 8:15 to go. To no Kings fan’s surprise, Sacramento blew the chance. Jason Thompson bobbled a feed in the key and flattened Steve Blake. The charge destroyed a chance for Sacramento to add on to its 10-0 run. The Lakers scored the next 11 points, and that was that. One critical play.
LEAKY DEFENSE – To compound a Kings offense that was inconsistent at best, Sacramento allowed the Lakers to shoot 56.9 percent from the field. A lot of credit goes to the Lakers shooters, but the Kings were slow to react. As has been the case much of the year, the Kings doubled off the wrong guys, and in this one, leaving Jamison or Blake for a second was a huge mistake. The Lakers drilled 12-of-28 from long range, as Jamison scored a game-high 27 points.
SMOKING PATTERSON – Yet another terrific performance turned in by Patrick Patterson (36 MIN, 22 PTS, 9-12 FG, 2-2 3FG, 5 REB), who was near automatic from anywhere inside 22 feet. In the first half, Patterson burned the Lakers from the perimeter. The Kings executed their offense smoothly, the ball moved and Patterson found himself open for a number of spot-up looks. And he was smoking hot. In the second half, Patterson wasn’t much of a factor, which was disappointing considering the Kings lack of offense. Patterson may not be a guy you draw up plays for, but the Kings guards have to better recognize his ability. Patterson should be a supreme pick-and-roll player when things bog down on offense. Nonetheless, he’s been a great addition to the team.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Remember a couple weeks ago when John Salmons made every shot he looked at? Yeah, that guy is long gone. Salmons (30 MIN, 3 PTS, 1-7 FG, 5 AST) had another stinker Sunday, scoring in single-digits for the fifth straight game. He’s hit just 8-for-39 in those five, and the Kings are sorely missing his timely outside shots … Dwight Howard took advantage of DeMarcus Cousins’ absence, ripping 17 boards. Jason Thompson (25 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-8 FG, 7 REB, 5 PF) played an awful game at center … The outside stroke that has looked so good for Tyreke Evans of late didn’t show up in Los Angeles. Evans (42 MIN, 13 PTS, 6-19 FG, 1-6 3FG, 7 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL) was aggressive and got to the rim, but he couldn’t complement his game from the perimeter, limiting his effectiveness … Might not have agreed with Toney Douglas (17 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-10 FG, 4 REB, 2 STL, 1 BLK) being on the floor late, but can’t argue with his effort. Douglas’ defense was on point yet again, and he was a factor in the Kings near comeback … In the 2011 NBA Draft, the Lakers had four second round picks: Darius Morris (41), Andrew Goudelock (46), Chukwudiebere Maduabum (56) and Ater Majok (58). The Kings took Isaiah Thomas (34 MIN, 26 PTS, 9-20 FG, 6 AST) at No. 60.