Tonight’s 115–94 win over the Kings was a must-win for the Lakers. With a loss tonight and a Trailblazers win, it would have put the Lakers in 6th place seed in the Western Conference. Coming in tonight the Kings had won 7 of their previous 10 games trying to climb up in the West for the 8th seed. With tonight’s huge win over the Kings, the Lakers stay afloat in the Western Conference remaining in 4th place with a 31–18 season record.
After coming off one of their worst games, shooting from the three-point arc, (27.9%) the Lakers bounced back and shot hot from the perimeter in tonight’s Laker win. The Lakers shot 51.5% (2nd best of the season) from the three, making 17 threes (3rd most of the season) tonight on 17 of 33. The Lakers’ hottest night from the three overshadowed their worst night of the season shooting from the free-throw line, going 12 for 20 (60%). On the night the Lakers shot 47.8% from the field, going 43 for 90 total.
After tonight’s game Lakers Kyle Kuzma emphasized how important they (Lakers) needed to be on defense tonight and moving forward. Kuzma said their game plan was to not let Kings, Buddy Hield get hot as he did in their previous matchup. Hield was hot in their last matchup against the Lakers scoring 29 points on 7 of 11 (63.6%) shooting from three. Tonight was a different story for Hield, the Lakers held him to just 6 points on 1 of 9 (11.1%) shooting from the three-point arc and 3 of 11 (27.2%) total. The Lakers game plan tonight was to keep the Kings from getting hot from the perimeter and they did just that, they forced the Kings to shoot 28.6% on 10 of 35 shooting from three. Frank Vogel on the key defensively in tonight’s win:
“Our guys really had a high level of attention to detail executing the gameplan against one of the hottest offenses in the league. Sacramento for the last few weeks was the number one rated offense in the league. Our guys played with great tenacity.”
In his 36 minutes of action, Kyle Kuzma was tonight’s player of the game, giving the Lakers a game-high and his season-high 30 points on 11 of 18 (61.1%) shooting from the field and 4 of 7 (57.1%) shooting from the three. Kuzma also had a game-high 29 plus/minus on the night being everywhere on both ends of the floor. Kuzma spoke on his huge night for this Lakers squad saying:
“I take pride on the defensive end going back to last season. I’m slowly becoming an all-around player. I put in a lot of work on this game, I love this game. I’m always in the gym, I just had to get the mechanics right and keep letting it fly.”
The Lakers had 5 players finish in double figures with 4 of them coming from their starting lineup. The starting unit combined for 79 points in tonight’s win with the Lakers bench, adding 36 points in one of the best shooting performances this team has had all season.
Dennis Schröder finished 2nd on the night in scoring with 17 points and 8 assists on 7 of 13 (53.8%) shooting from the field and 3 of 4 (75%) shooting from the perimeter. In his 31 minutes of action Schröder also added 4 steals and 4 rebounds.
In my past two post-game Laker articles I’ve highlighted the quiet impact Markieff Morris has made as of late in the lineup. Tonight he had another impactful night for this squad finishing with 14 points and 8 rebounds on 6 of 13 (46.1%) shooting from the field goal. In Morris’ previous 4 games he has finished with 10+ points:
Vs. SAC: 14 PTS
Vs. MIL: 15 PTS
Vs. ORL: 12 PTS
Vs. CLE: 13 PTS
Lakers starting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has had struggles staying consistent throughout the season, but tonight he was consistently shot hot from the three tonight. Caldwell-Pope finished with his first double-double of the season, notching 13 points and 10 rebounds on 4 of 7 (57.1%) shooting from the three. Caldwell-Pope was able to play more minutes for Wes Matthews who took a hard foul on a lay-up mid-game landing awkwardly on the floor.
20-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker had the best performance for the Lakers bench in tonight’s win. In 21 minutes, Horton-Tucker finished with 15 points and 4 steals on 6 of 12 (50%) shooting from the field.
The Lakers will now travel for the 2nd game of a 7 game road trip this Sunday at home but away against the Clippers. The Clippers are currently in 3rd place in the West at 32–18 and are coming off a two-game losing streak and are looking to get back on the win column against an injured Lakers team.