(Rocky Widner/Getty Images)
Lakers Can't Recover From Early Drought in Sacramento
On the second night of a back-to-back, Lakers coach Luke Walton liked the way that his team initially showed up for its visit to Sacramento.
However, his satisfaction was short-lived. The Kings scored 13 unanswered points toward the end of opening quarter, and the Lakers never fully recovered in a 113-102 loss.
“It just felt like we kind of fell apart and stopped trusting what we were doing,” Walton said. “Didn’t play with the same energy defensively; weren’t making the same crisp, selfless passes on offense.
“For the rest of the night, we were kind of scrambling to stay within striking distance.”
Zach Randolph keyed Sacramento’s big run with 11 of his 17 points coming in the first. The veteran big man scored all across the floor and added seven rebounds and seven assists on a night when his team was uncharacteristically hot.
The Kings (5-13) entered this matchup with the NBA’s last-place offense, while the Lakers (8-11) were ranked fourth in defense.
But Sacramento topped its season average by 20 points, led by a monster night from second-string center Willie Cauley-Stein.
The 7-footer overpowered smaller defenders in the paint, mainly off rolls to the hoop, and put up a season-high 26 points, including 21 in the second half.
Cauley-Stein and teammates seemed to thrive of a raucous Sacramento crowd, as L.A. found its own scoring, but rarely brought game within single digits.
“A lot of opposing fans of the Lakers probably don’t like us,” said Kyle Kuzma, who had 17 points. “I feel like a lot of teams are ready for us, and the fans are too.”
The Lakers’ inability to contain the surprisingly potent Kings wasted their own awakening from the 3-point arc.
The purple and gold hit a season-best 15 triples (on only 29 attempts), though many came in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the team with 20 points and four treys, yet Lonzo Ball had the highlight of the night with a vicious second-quarter slam.
On a play the Lakers ran the night before against Chicago, Ball brought the ball up and gave it to Corey Brewer before sprinting around an Andrew Bogut screen on his way to the hoop.
Brewer delivered a nice lob and Ball caught it with one hand, throwing down the jam over the outstretched arm of Cauley-Stein.
The alley-oop served as Ball’s crescendo in his first NBA matchup against fellow top-five pick De’Aaron Fox.
In this long-awaited meeting between point guards who met in last year’s NCAA tournament, Ball finished with the better statistics: 11 points (4-of-8), 11 assists, seven rebounds and four turnovers.
But Fox (13 points, 5-of-11, three assists, four rebounds, five turnovers) left the arena with the win.
Julius Randle had 14 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. … The Lakers have four days until their next game on Monday against the LA Clippers. … A sold-out crowd of 17,583 filled Golden 1 Center.