The two worst teams in the Western Conference met in Los Angeles on Friday, as the Lakers hosted the Sacramento Kings. As expected, the game quickly turned into a shootout with neither team showing much resistance on the defensive end. But just when it appeared the Kings had established themselves as the better of two inferior clubs, the floodgates opened. The Lakers were absolutely lethal from long range, quickly turning a double-digit deficit into a lead. Sacramento simply couldn’t keep up, and in the end, Los Angeles took a 126-122 victory.
BOMBS AWAY – My goodness, the Lakers were on another planet with their perimeter shooting. The Kings definitely fell asleep defensively on some possessions, allowing for open looks. But for the most part, Los Angeles just could not miss whether contested or not. Jordan Farmar led the way with an incredible display, scoring a career-high 30 points on 8-of-10 shooting from downtown. As a team, the Lakers shot 70.4 percent (19-for-27) from three-point range, which was better than they shot from the free throw line (68.8 percent). It was reminiscent of the Kings game against Orlando a few years back when the Magic rung up an NBA record 23 triples. Just could not miss.
D-WILL SEIZES OPPORTUNITY – With DeMarcus Cousins suspended, Derrick Williams stepped into the starting lineup at power forward. D-Will (40 MIN, 26 PTS, 10-20 FG, 6-10 FT, 12 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 0 TO) was terrific. He was aggressive from start to finish, using his quickness/strength combo to get to the rack and get to the line. He limited his forces and focused on high percentage chances. The standout performance begs the question: Should Williams start on a regular basis? He and Rudy Gay showed solid chemistry, and if defense isn’t going to be present no matter who plays, why not try to play to your team’s strengths and add offensive firepower? Williams is frequently lost on the bench, and while Jason Thompson has been solid, he’s always seemed more suited for the third big man role. It’s worth considering for Coach Michael Malone in an effort to jumpstart the team down the home stretch.
RUDY, ISAIAH SHINE – Offense was not a problem for the Kings, and that was due in large part to the efficiency of Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas. Gay (41 MIN, 32 PTS, 11-22 FG, 9-9 FT, 7 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TO) was an animal, scoring on his patented dribble drives and short pull-ups. Gay was also a willing passer and took advantage of the attention he received from the Lakers defense. At the point, Thomas (32 MIN, 26 PTS, 10-16 FG, 2-2 3FG, 4-5 FT, 8 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 5 TO) was very productive as a shooter and distributor. The matchup against Kendall Marshall was favorable for Isaiah, and he continued his success against Farmar later in the game. Gay and Thomas were the catalysts for the Kings sparkling 29-to-11 assist-to-turnover ratio. They attacked when given space but didn’t hesitate to involve others.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – The Kings second unit enjoyed a stellar stint in the second quarter, buoyed by the best shift of Ray McCallum’s career. McCallum (23 MIN, 7 PTS, 3-7 FG, 5 AST, 0 TO) was a competent lead guard, commanding the offense and setting up his teammates. He also showed nice touch with his own shot, though he still seems hesitant to shoot … Orlando Johnson (14 MIN, 4 PTS, 1-2 FG, 2 AST, 1 REB) made his Kings debut and showed some decent skills. He looked comfortable on the floor, nailed his first shot (a three-pointer) and even dropped a sweet spin move in the post to earn a trip to the line … Reggie Evans (19 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-7 FG, 9 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL) did Reggie Evans things, and when he’s on your team, that’s a good thing. He pestered Pau Gasol and attacked the offensive glass. Carl Landry, out with a knee injury, was not missed … The struggles of Ben McLemore (30 MIN, 0 PTS, 0-4 FG, 0-4 3FG, 2 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO) continued. The tools are obvious, but it’s concerning to see him miss so many open shots. You can’t really blame that on the speed of the game or hitting the rookie wall. These are wide open looks that he has to start knocking down.
Tags: Sacramento Kings