Since he was named head coach of the Lakers in July 2014, Byron Scott has preached an endless sermon of defense. But an encouraging training camp and preseason has given way to back-to-back unsightly performances on that end.
Just two days after allowing Minnesota to score 112 in the season opener, the Lakers suffered a 132-114 loss in Sacramento — the most points the Kings have piled up in regulation over the last eight years.
Scott let the team know his disappointment during their 48-minute defensive lapse that allowed 80 points in the paint — the most by any team over the past 20 years, per Elias Sports Bureau.
“I told them at halftime, ‘Sooner or later, you’ve got to man up,’” Scott said after Friday’s loss. “Sometimes it doesn’t come down to Xs and Os. You’ve got guys going at you. You’ve got to man up.”
It was clear that L.A. was in trouble from the start, as the Kings scored 14 unanswered points early in the first quarter, which powered a 40-point opening period that ended with Sacramento already up by 16.
“They set the tone from the beginning of the game and that was pretty much it,” said Julius Randle, who shot just 1-of-4 and had five turnovers in 16 minutes. “It was over from the beginning.”
On the other end of the floor, the Lakers could rely on a strong effort from Jordan Clarkson, whose game-high 22 points came on a 10-of-15 clip. Nick Young followed Clarkson with 17 points off the bench, plus three steals, but the duo’s scoring was drowned out by a Sacramento squad that seemingly had everyone getting buckets.
“(The defense) just sucked,” Scott said. “Simple as that. Transition defense was terrible. Guys didn’t get back; lack of communication. I’ve never seen 80 points in the paint in a game. That’s what they had tonight.”
Rajon Rondo resembled the version of himself that dueled the Lakers in the NBA Finals with Boston in 2008 and 2010. The first-year King piloted Sacramento’s offense like he’d been there for a decade, finishing with 21 points (9-of-13) and eight assists in 24 minutes.
Meanwhile, Second Team All-NBA honoree DeMarcus Cousins was responsible for much of the Kings’ post success by providing 21 points and 11 rebounds, while making up for a 5-of-15 night from the field with an 11-of-14 free-throw mark.
Kosta Koufos added 10 more boards off the bench, as he and Cousins led Sacramento to a 56-37 rebounding advantage.
Kobe Passes Shaq
Despite a tough shooting night for Kobe Bryant (13 points, 5-of-12), he did add another offensive milestone to his 20-year career. With a second-quarter bucket — the 11,331st of his career — Bryant passed Lakers legend and former teammate Shaquille O’Neal for the fifth-most in NBA history.
Bryant, who is also the third-leading scorer of all-time, now sits behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15,837), Karl Malone (13,528), Wilt Chamberlain (12,681) and Michael Jordan (12,192) in made shots.
Hibbert Gets Defensive
Much of Sacramento’s dominance in the paint stemmed from foul trouble for Roy Hibbert, who was whistled for his second just five minutes into the game.
“We’re gonna learn going through the fire,” he said. “The young guys are going to have to learn quickly and the older guys are going to have to adjust as well.”
The 7-foot-2 Hibbert bolstered L.A.’s interior defense when he was on the floor, as he swatted five shots in 21 minutes.
Following Hibbert’s lead, Ryan Kelly added three blocks of his own off the bench.
Sacramento managed to pile up the points despite make just six 3-pointers on 22 tries. … Eighth overall pick Willie Cauley-Stein shined in his first career start, going 7-of-8 to end with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Rudy Gay added 19 points for the Kings. … D’Angelo Russell scored 13 points by hitting half of his 10 attempts. … A sold-out Sleep Train Arena hosted 17,391 fans for Sacramento’s home opener.