LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – LeBron James dropped a double-double. Russell Westbrook played his way to a triple-double. The Los Angeles Lakers got 49 points from the bench. And that still added up to a 141-137 triple-overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings at STAPLES Center (Crypto.com Arena).
Yes, the same Sacramento team that just fired head coach and former Laker Luke Walton, a squad who walked into their post-Thanksgiving game with the Lakers, posting just seven wins on the season.
You can make that eight after Buddy Hield scored 17 of his 25 points in the three overtime periods. Interestingly enough, Heild struggled shooting the ball from the field, making just 8 of 21 shots he took from the floor.
Kings interim head coach Alvin Gentry said despite Hield having a poor shooting percentage, you still have to let him do his thing.
“I don’t really look at Buddy’s shooting percentage or anything like that,” Gentry said in a postgame press conference. “With him, you just got to let him go. At some point in the game, he’s going to make a big shot for you or he’s going to put you in a position where you can win the game. We ride with him. We ride with him because we really do feel like there’s going to be a point in the game where he can help us win.”
As far as what’s going on with the Lakers, well the obvious is to point to their record thus far. The team has been up and down all season long, not quite getting into sync with one another. One night, the Lakers might look like world-beaters. The next night they might look like former NBA All-Stars with a little left in the tank of a fading career.
Right now, from the outside looking in, the Lakers are battling inconsistency. On a night where James goes for 30 points and 11 assists to go along with seven rebounds, and Westbrook being all over the stat sheet with 29 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, their defense faltered.
Led by De’Aaron Fox’s 34 points, the Kings had seven players score points in double figures. It could be that fatigue might have set in from the team’s extended road trip, where the Lakers lost three of their five games.
In matching the Kings point for point in regulation as well as in the first two overtime periods, the Lakers were outscored 17-13 in the final extra quarter of play.
“I think there is room for us to continue to improve. Obviously, it was a long trip for us. The first game after a long trip is always the hardest, going to come get your foot from underneath. The first couple quarters we started seeing some good basketball. The third and the fourth went into overtime still. It gave us another chance to win but we just didn’t have enough to go down. They made some big shots, Buddy made some big shots.”
So in this post-Thanksgiving matchup, both the Kings and the Lakers looked like they had too much turkey during the holiday. At least in the first quarter. That first period was strictly dudsville with both teams somehow struggling to put 20 points on the scoreboard.
The second quarter was not too much better with the Lakers and Kings going into halftime knotted up at 43-43. It was not until the third quarter, in which the Lakers outscored the Kings, 35-30 when things started popping off offensively. Westbrook was at the center of the Lakers’ offensive eruption, scoring 13 of his 29 points in the third quarter.
The Kings matched the Lakers those five extra points in the fourth quarter to send the game into the first extra period. This is where Lakers forward Anthony Davis got rid of the cobwebs and tried to take over the game. Davis scored 10 of his 23 points in the three overtimes. But like the way the Lakers have been playing of late, it was not enough.
“We were very frustrated,” Davis said. “We wanted to come home and win games. We know it’s the first game after a long road trip. A game we definitely could’ve won, we had some mistakes, granted they hit some tough shots, credit to them, down the stretch. Hand in Fox’s [De’Aaron Fox] face, he hit a couple mid-range jumpers.
“Buddy [Hield] hit a one-legged step back. They hit some tough shots, but a game we had control of in the fourth and let it get away and then overtimes. Once again, they made some tough shots and made some big plays. I feel like we had control of the game.”
Going back to their defeat at home against the Chicago Bulls, the Lakers have lost five of their last seven games. A win Sunday against the Detroit Pistons would help the team move forward. While the Lakers are not happy with how they are playing, this is not the time to start freaking out, Westbrook said.
“I don’t think it’s dramatic for us internally,” Westbrook said. “Like AD said, we have a sense of urgency, but we also understand adversity, understand bumps in the road. One thing I live by is: never panic. Don’t panic. Stick with each other. Never spread out. At times like this, we see what people may think outside our locker room. It’s how quickly they think we should be playing, this way or that way. It’s a long year, but just to reiterate what AD said, we have a sense of urgency of taking care of home games and win when we’re supposed to win.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”