Kentavious Caldwell-Pope reacts to a basket against the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 24, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

KCP Leads 3-Point Barrage, Lakers' Victory

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rewarded the droves of Lakers fans in Sacramento by turning in one of the hottest 3-point shooting nights in franchise history.

The 25-year-old knocked down eight triples — tying six other players for the most by a Laker not named Kobe Bryant — while scoring 34 points and leading the purple and gold to a 113-108 victory over the Kings.

“The feeling’s great when you see the ball going in,” Caldwell-Pope said. “When I saw my first three shots from 3 go in, I knew I was gonna be feeling it from the 3-point line.”

Caldwell-Pope’s fireballs came by a variety of means. He hit three triples in transition, two off screens, two on spot-ups and one in isolation.

The first-year Laker was especially accurate in the third quarter, scoring half of his season-high point total and sinking five treys.

It was the fifth 30-point game of his five-year career, as he tied his personal record in made 3’s.

“He had the hot hand,” said Isaiah Thomas, who had 17 points. “He saw a couple go down and then I bet it felt like everything he shot was going in. He really helped us tonight. He made shots, he defended like he does every night, and he had a hell of a game.”

Thomas added three 3-pointers of his own, as the Lakers (25-34) splashed a season-high 17 triples on a 44.7 percent clip as a team.

With Caldwell-Pope so hot, the Lakers used him as a decoy on several possessions and also put him in positions to punish the Kings (18-41) for overplaying him beyond the arc.

“You’ve got to anticipate how we would guard a player who gets really hot that’s a good shooter,” coach Luke Walton said, “and then try to manipulate it a little bit to try to get either him or his teammates better shots.”

Ahead by just one with five minutes left, KCP received a pass in the corner and began to drive as Sacramento’s Buddy Hield scrambled to close out on a possible 3-point attempt.

As Hield tried to recover, Caldwell-Pope hit him with a crossover into a step-back jumper, starting a key 7-0 run that also included a Kyle Kuzma 3-pointer and a Julius Randle flying dunk.

That burst appeared to have L.A. on the fast track to a win, as it led by five with only 12.7 seconds left. But Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic (21 points) gave his team life with a four-point play made possible by a KCP foul.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they hit all eight of their free throws over the last two minutes, half of which were made by Thomas.

“I’m always willing to be that guy to take the big free throws,” Thomas said.

The other four were provided by Brandon Ingram (13 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) and Josh Hart (10 points, six rebounds, five assists) — who both had strong all-around performances.

But the most complete performance belonged to Randle, who packaged together 12 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Coming off a triple-double the night before, Randle continued to flash all of his skill set, including a particularly fierce night on the boards that ended with five offensive rebounds.

“I thought in the first half he was floating a little bit too much,” Walton said. “I told him, ‘This is not how you’ve been playing. You’re our physical enforcer, and we need you rolling to the rim and being physical and grabbing rebounds.’”

Notes
The Lakers swept their back-to-back against Dallas and Sacramento. … L.A. was without Lonzo Ball, who rested as part of his return from a sore left knee. … The Kings hit 13 3-pointers, including five by Buddy Hield (21 points). … A crowd of 17,583 sold out Golden 1 Center.

GET. OUT. OF. JULIUS. RANDLE'S. WAY.

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