Lonzo Ball handles the ball against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 9, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Lonzo, Julius Fuel Lakers' Win Over Kings

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

It was spectacular but not necessarily pretty. It was reckless but effective. And it was the one play that summed up Lonzo Ball’s game against the Sacramento Kings.

Down by one midway through the second quarter, Ball stripped Sacramento’s unsuspecting center and immediately pushed ahead on the fast break. Vince Carter gave chase, but Ball had something unexpected for him.

Instead of trying a layup against Carter, he bounced the ball off the backboard to Julius Randle, who was trailing the play. It was a bit too hard, but Randle managed to get a hand up and tip it in, providing the spark to a 99-86 victory.

“It’s just how I play: kind of wild, kind of free,” Ball said. “I’m glad he made it, because I saw Luke (Walton) going to the bench if he didn’t make it. I don’t know how he caught it, but it went in.”

Walton didn’t bench his point guard, and for good reason. Ball scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting, but nonetheless was the Lakers’ most dangerous weapon.

He added 11 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals, while racking up his numbers in eye-popping fashion.

The 20-year-old pushed the ball in transition after hauling in a rebound. He created fast-breaks on his own with his swipes. And his passing was on another level.

There was, of course, the off-the-glass dime to Randle, as well as a full-court outlet to the same target.

But his most impressive play was a blend of his reliable rebounding and one-of-a-kind passing.

Early in the fourth quarter, he beat two Kings for an offensive rebound, tipping it back to a teammate before receiving the ball and regenerating the offense.

He then ran a simple pick-and-roll and pulled up from mid-range — but it was far from an ordinary play. The shot attempt was just a diversion, as he hit a cutting Brandon Ingram for a slam.

“My game’s not all scoring,” Ball said. “Whether I score or not, I can still impact the game multiple ways.”

Like Ball, Randle also flashed an all-around game, leading all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting while finding time for 14 rebounds and six assists.

The fourth-year Laker did a nice job taking Sacramento’s slower bigs off the dribble, and constantly fed Brook Lopez when L.A.’s center got hot.

The Lakers (13-27) needed Lopez after they had squandered a 24-6 start to the game.

Trailing by eight early in the third quarter, Lopez bombarded the Kings (13-27) with 3-pointers, hitting three in a two-minute stretch.

The Lakers continued pouring it on with a 26-5 run that included four points and four assists by Randle, who benefited from Lopez reaching 18 points and five triples on the night.

“I love playing with Brook,” Randle said. “I told him (that) him being able to space the floor (makes) the lanes open up and the reads easy.”

On a team-wide level, the Lakers thrived by making strong defense turn into offense.

They held Sacramento to 34.5 percent shooting from the field — the lowest by an opponent this season — which resulted in a 35-8 advantage in fast-break points.

“That’s coming together because we’re getting stops,” Randle said. “When we get stops, we’re able to get the rebound … and get out in run and use our athleticism.”

Still, Walton was left perturbed by mistakes that cost the Lakers their early lead.

L.A. shot just 13-of-21 on free throws and committed a season-high 26 turnovers — including seven by Brandon Ingram and six by Randle.

“That is B.S. to me,” Walton said of his team’s poor foul shooting and giveaways.

Still, both Randle and Ingram contributed to the victory. Despite constant foul trouble, Ingram finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes.

Kentavious Caldwell Pope (16 points) and Larry Nance Jr. (10 points, eight rebounds) had nice games. … Sacramento was led by Bogdan Bogdanovic (19 points). … An audience of 18,997 sold out Staples Center.

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