Malik Monk gathers the rebound

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Kings - 1/12/22

by Mike Trudell

The Lakers (21-20) go to Sacramento (16-26) on Tuesday looking to bounce back from a Sunday loss to Memphis that snapped a four-game home winning streak. The game tips at 7:00 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know about the matchup:

With a major exception – LeBron James – the Lakers seemed to all have an off-shooting night against Memphis … at least in the starting lineup.

Russell Westbrook went 2 for 12, Avery Bradley 2 for 10, and Malik Monk – who’d been on a seven-game streak of shooting over 50 percent – 3 for 13, as neither shots at the rim nor the perimeter were falling. Stanley Johnson went 1 for 4, as well, making LeBron’s 14 for 19 (35 points) stand out even more.

“Lot of guys having a tough shooting night all at once,” summed up Frank Vogel.

The head coach also gave credit to a Memphis team currently the NBA’s longest winning streak, at nine. The Grizzlies played far better than any of the four opponents L.A. had beaten in succession at Arena during their five-game homestand (POR, MIN, SAC, ATL).

“I think as of late, before tonight, we’ve played some really good basketball,” added LeBron. “We want to continue that trend over the next (41 games). The best thing about our ball club right now is that we’re getting healthy. We’re logging minutes, we’re getting some good chemistry.”

After wrapping up their season series with Memphis, the Lakers will now close operations against Sacramento, in the fourth matchup between the two, and second at the state capital. L.A. lost a three OT thriller on Nov. 27, before rebounding to win 117-92 on Nov. 30, and 122-114 on Jan. 4.

In last week’s game, Sacramento gave L.A. the best competition out of their four wins. In a game that came down to crunch time, the Lakers outscored the Kings 37-31 in the fourth quarter to lock up the win.

It was LeBron and Monk going back and forth in that quarter. Monk is averaging 18.4 points on 49.6 percent shooting, and 44.8 percent from three, plus 2.9 boards, 2.3 assists and 1.0 blocks in nine starts.

“He’s always hot, he’s always a threat,” said Frank Vogel after that game. “I like his, for the most part, his shot selection and the decisions he’s making with the basketball. He’s doing a great job delivering the ball to ‘Bron rolling, that combination has been really good for us. He’s shooting shots he knows he can make, so the efficiency is pretty high. Obviously he’s always live, and the more he’s producing, his minutes are going up and up. A big part of this little mini win streak we have going.”

Sacramento is coming off a Monday evening loss to Cleveland, where they had a shot to win it just ahead of the buzzer, as De’Aaron Fox missed a 16-foot jumper with 1.1 seconds on the clock.

In the fourth quarter of L.A.’s Sunday evening game against Memphis, LeBron James found Wayne Ellington for a corner three, his seventh assist of the evening, and 9,888th of his career, moving him past the great Oscar Robertson for 7th on the NBA’s all-time assist list.

“I’m a historian of the game,” said LeBron afterwards, when asked about Robertson. “I know quite a bit about ‘The Big O.’ From high school, to the University of Cincinnati, to actually playing for the Cincinnati Royals, all the way to Milwaukee and so on and so on. What he meant to the game, what he still means to the game is something that’s just unparalleled … He was one of the first really premier big guards that could do pretty much everything out on the floor. His ability to get teammates involved, his ability to find his teammates, his ability to provide that sense of joy out on the floor because of the pass is something that I will always respect and gravitate towards. Guys like himself, Jason Kidd, Magic [Johnson]. I know I sound like a broken record but it’s the honest to god truth, any time I’m connected with anything with the greats is a true honor. “

Speaking of Magic Johnson … he’s next up on the list, with 10,141 dimes in his 13 seasons. With LeBron carrying a 6.6 assist-per-game average into Wednesday’s action, he’s on track to catch Magic in 38 games.

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