The Los Angeles Lakers traveled to Sacramento tonight to take on the Sacramento Kings, winning 115-94. Marc Gasol was inserted back into the lineup to replaced the injured Andre Drummond, who is expected to return shortly. The Lakers began the game fairly sloppy, tallying a total of 7 turnovers. However, behind Markieff Morris‘ 9 first quarter points, the Lakers finished the first quarter with a slim lead. But before the quarter came to a close, Wesley Matthews came out of the game after reaggravating a neck injury. The Lakers closed out the second half with an excellent offensive effort, shooting efficiently from the perimeter. On the other end, the Lakers failed to keep Harrison Barnes in check, who had 22 first half points.
The Lakers remained hot coming out of halftime. Their hot three-point shooting continued, and the Lakers were able to close out the third quarter strong. The fourth quarter was no different for the purple and gold. The Lakers continued to body the Kings with three-pointers. They continued to build their lead through defensive stops, transition points, and unconscious shooting. The Lakers were able to pull their starters out with 3 minutes to play, putting a bow on the win.
The story of the game was the Lakers’ shooting, which was at its best all season long. The Lakers shot 47.8% from the field, but more importantly 51.5% from three. If the Lakers can shoot at this level on a consistent basis, they put themselves in a great position offensive. Their defensive effort cannot be ignored as well. They held the Kings, who are top 10 in almost every major offensive category, to under 100 points. They held star De’Aaron Fox to only 12 points, one of his worst games this season. All around, this was a great win for the Lakers to get their road trip started. With the contribution from both their offense and defense, this win puts the Lakers at 31-18.
STAR OF THE GAME
This was a true team effort by the Lakers, but Kyle Kuzma was exceptional tonight. After a rough game against Milwaukee, Kuzma rebounded with 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. These aren’t empty numbers either. He played at an extremely efficient level, shooting 11-18 from the field and 4-7 from three. He was also +29 for the night. This was all accomplished in 36 minutes of playing time.
Kuzma flashed his entire bag tonight from the floater to his 3-point shot. He was in an offensive rhythm the entire night and constantly found his way around the Kings defense. He was aggressive and locked in for all 4 quarters. With three starters out, the Lakers have asked Kuzma to fill large shoes. Although the consistency hasn’t been there just yet, his performance tonight is encouraging for Lakers fans. If he is able to do this on a nightly basis, opponents would find it virtually impossible to stop him.
The biggest factor hindering the Lakers when they are on their A-game are injuries. The Lakers were down three starters, although Drummond is expected to return soon. Tonight, the Lakers lost Wesley Matthews, who has been shooting well, to a neck injury. Although most their injuries came from freak accidents, it remains a concern for the Lakers. With both LeBron James and Anthony Davis out for weeks, the Lakers must remain healthy as possible.
The playoffs are approaching quickly, and the Lakers must do their best to preserve their best players. The severity of Matthews’ injury is not yet clear, but x-rays were reported to be negative. Much like Gasol today replacing Drummond, Lakers role players are doing a fine job being the next man up. But to optimize their level of play, they would need to stay healthy and ready for the playoffs.
For how he has been playing for the majority of the season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope surprisingly had himself a good game. In 36 minutes, Caldwell-Pope posted a double-double with 10 rebounds and a modest 13 points. He started game off with an impressive 4-4 from three and ultimately ended 4-7 from three. Caldwell-Pope has had a rough shooting stretch after beginning the season on fire, so it’s relieving to see him having a great game. Furthermore, his BPM tonight was +23, only second to Kuzma.
Coach Frank Vogel told Caldwell-Pope before tonight’s game to be more aggressive and have a scoring mentality. It certainly paid off for both Caldwell-Pope and the Lakers, who hope to see more of that as the season progresses. When KCP is on, the Lakers tend to win.
The Lakers will take on the rival Los Angeles Clippers.
Vs Los Angeles Clippers, Sunday, April 4th, 12:30 PM PT
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