What exactly can you take from this Kings loss to the Lakers?
This is the third one of the season. It’s also the third loss to the Lakers this season in which the Kings gave them more than what most fans would expect. The Kings can hang with the Lakers. The Kings can hang with the defending world champs. What does that mean? Nobody really can tell you. This is still just a 23-win team this year. With the way they’ve played over the couple of weeks, they might approach 30 wins by the end of the year. However, with the way they’ve taken it to the Lakers and stood toe-to-toe with them for three games this season, the signs are encouraging for the future.
The biggest difference between the two teams Tuesday night was the length of the Lakers. Even as tall as Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson are and even as quick and dynamic Carl Landry is, nothing could really compare to just how big and long Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are in the paint. Andrew Bynum played the way that all of his supporters have claimed he can do. He was quick to the ball, pounded the offensive glass and dunked the ball home. Pau Gasol’s offensive repertoire was a little more skill and finesse. He was unstoppable in the post. Hooks from either hand in the post were just too long and stretched too high for the Kings to truly challenge. When he stepped out to shoot the jumper, the bigs had to resign to letting him have it.
That doesn’t mean the Kings big men played poorly either. They fought the entire way. It looked like the Kings would get hammered on the boards early but they battled on the glass the entire game. Losing on the boards to this Lakers team 50-43 isn’t embarrassing at all. The problem was that the Kings just simply gave up too many offensive rebounds (14). Landry struggled early to find his scoring touch but ended up having a nice second, third and fourth quarter to finish with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Spencer Hawes was abused early by Bynum but held his own for the most part after that first quarter. And Jason Thompson was brilliant once again off the bench.
JT was a huge part of the fourth quarter that kept the Kings close in this game. When the score was 84-68 with the Lakers looking to blow the game out early in the fourth quarter, Jason helped the Kings fight back and get this to a respectable loss. He scored 10 points in the final period and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. In the fourth quarter, the Kings kept attacking the basket and being the aggressors. They attempted 16 free throws in the final period to help them put up a 31-point fourth quarter.
However, the problem for this game was the Lakers length. The Kings took 22 threes in the game because the Lakers packed it in the paint and forced the kick-out for shots on the perimeter. The problem is the Kings missed a lot of open looks (as per usual) and finished just 7/22. When they did get shots up in the paint, the Lakers challenged them and altered them well. Kings only made just over half of their shots at the rim and the big reason for that was trying to get the ball to the basket without the two wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men.
And then there was Tyreke Evans. Is this what we have to look forward to the rest of the season? Near triple doubles? This kid is unconscious right now. For the month of March, he’s averaging 20.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. He’s 20! Against the Lakers, he poured in 25 points by picking his spots against Ron Artest (although Ron defended him pretty well) and then obliterating Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown whenever they were forced to guard him. He also crashed the boards to help try to counter the height of the Lakers and found open teammates for easy scores. I don’t even want to try to explain how good he is or has been or will be anymore. At this point, you just let the games and performances speak for themselves. And that’s what I’m going to do here.
Next game is the Rookie Showdown between Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans on Friday. Should be a good one.