LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE

Next Man Up Mentality Wields Win Over Kings

by Taylor Geas

The Lakers won their third-straight game this Tuesday evening, defeating the Kings 122-114. The matchup between the eighth and tenth seeds in the Western Conference was a striking match. For nearly 48 minutes it seemed each team answered the other, the lead never grew past 8. But the ultimate victory pushed the Lake Show to one game past .500.

Small ball has been the Lakers' secret to success in their past two contests against Portland and Minnesota. Tonight, the team found a balance between both their styles. To start, LeBron James (31 pts, 5 ast, 5 reb) resumed his spot at center, and Trevor Ariza was among the starting five’s small lineup.

The victors’ shooting consistently improved quarter by quarter. Bron was steady and produced around 15 of his points strictly driving to the hoop. He struggled most of the game with his three-point shooting but found a sweet spot for a moment in the fourth quarter when he and Buddy Hield (26 pts, 5 reb) went back and forth from the arc with just under four minutes to go in the game. The King then continued to close the door on the Kings with an and-1 that brought the game two possessions out of their reach.

The timer was set on the Microwave, Malik Monk (24 pts), in the third and things were popping from that point through the fourth. Monk went 6-for-11 from the triple. He had four makes in a matter of minutes in the final frame. Coach Frank Vogel explained how Malik is “always locked and always a threat.” He said one of his favorite parts about his shooting is his conscientious selection, stating how Malik shoots “shots he knows he can make.” That must be why his efficiency is 46% from three in his last six games.

Midway through the first, Dwight Howard (14 pts, 14 reb) entered the game to give the Lakers some size, he also gave them some leverage. He was very involved, grabbing four boards in his first few minutes and eventually climbing to the top spot in rebounds on the floor.

ussell Westbrook (19 pts, 7 reb) said postgame how this team has that “next man up mentality” and that’s what they did tonight. He commented on Talen Horton-Tucker's(19 pts, 6 ast) finishing and his ability to slow down and take his time. Talo adamantly drove to the hoop. He took the shot when he had a clear opportunity or when he created space with his smooth iso moves. But what was big tonight, and a mark on his growing game, was Talen’s vision. He looked to find the open guy and circulate the ball from under a crowded hoop to where there was space along the arc.

The Lakers are back at home on Friday with momentum behind them as they take on the Atlanta Hawks.

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