Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Key Takeaways

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 09: Buddy Hield
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 09: Buddy Hield /

Here are some takeaways from the Sacramento Kings’ summer league loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers opted to sit their top picks Lonzo Ball (hamstring), Josh Hart (ankle), Kyle Kuzma (cramps), and Brandon Ingram (out for Summer League), which was a let down for fans anticipating the next Ball-Fox duel. Despite a tough effort, the Kings remained winless at 0-3 heading into the Vegas Summer League Tournament.

Rally Comes Up Short

The Kings found themselves down 68-40 in the third quarter before going on a 39-9 run to take the lead with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but ultimately lost 95-92 in the end.

With De’Aaron Fox watching from the bench with a sore ankle after playing 20 minutes, fellow rookie Frank Mason sparked the team’s rally scoring 20 of his 24 points in the second half. Buddy Hield was 6-9 from deep (0-6 on 2PT attempts) and made some difficult shots at the end to keep the Kings close, but air-balled the game-tying jumper with 2.0 seconds left.

Sacramento just couldn’t get the stops they needed down the stretch as Alex Caruso (18 points, 9 assists) and Vander Blue (21 points) ushered the Lakers’ win. A summer league loss doesn’t mean anything, but the fight to come back from that big of a deficit is a positive sign to see from the young players.

Bigs Struggle Again

Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere haven’t found their rhythm in Vegas after finishing with 0 and 2 points respectively. Papagiannis hasn’t made the impact that we’d expect from a lottery pick entering his second season. There’s a rapid decrease in the need for slow-footed bigs, so it’s important for Papagiannis to show improvement or he will find little playing time. Learning from Zach Randolph will be a good start.

I’m less worried about Skal. He will get easier looks playing with better talent around him in the regular season but hasn’t dominated like I thought he would after his promising play to close the season. Picking up six fouls in this game wasn’t a good sign, either.

Ball Movement Must Improve

The biggest takeaway through the three games is the Kings’ reliance on settling for difficult shots on offense. I understand it’s only summer league and there’s no way to implement an offensive game plan, but the lack of ball movement is a big reason they’re winless up to this point.

The Kings finished with 10 assists compared to the Lakers’ 22, and that was without Lonzo’s selflessness on the court. The only reason Sacramento climbed back into the game was that of Mason making tough shots and Buddy getting hot from deep late in the final period. No matter the outcome of the remaining game(s), I’d like to see more passing and cutting on the offense end.

Final Thoughts

The Kings should be disappointed with their 0-3 record with a roster that has multiple projected rotation players, but there are positives to take away. Fox continues to look sharp and Justin Jackson improved from a dismal second game with 16 points yesterday. The shot-making ability Mason and Hield have displayed has been impressive despite my cries for more passing.

The Kings’ next game is yet to be determined as they enter the Vegas Summer League Tournament.