Trailing three points with less than 25 seconds left in the final frame, the Sacramento Kings had the Los Angeles Lakers within striking distance. However, DeMarcus Cousins had other ideas.
With plenty of time left on the game clock, the Kings starting center took two ill-advised threes that helped keep the Lakers playoff hopes alive. As a result, the Kings fell 103-98 in the final meeting between the two teams this season at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings fall to 27-47 overall and 19-17 at home. They’ve now lost their last two home games after winning their previous three in Sacramento. They return to action Wednesday when they welcome the Houston Rockets and a few familiar faces to Sleep Train Arena.
Notes and Analysis
- Kobe Bryant was the man of the night, scoring 19 points and surpassing Wilt Chamberlain for No. 4 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant added 14 assists and nine rebounds while playing all but 23 seconds of the game. Kings fans love to hate Kobe, but he is an NBA legend and the fans were treated to a milestone tonight.
- Tyreke Evans went into slasher mode in this one, scoring a team-high 21 points. Smart let the multifaceted Evans play 43 minutes and he responded with nine rebounds and six assists in the loss.
- DeMarcus Cousins was a beast, but his decision-making down the stretch really hurt the Kings’ chances to win this one. Cousins finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, but threw up back-to-back 3-pointers in the game’s final 20 seconds. The first one was blocked by Dwight Howard, although there was plenty of contact. The second shot came five seconds later from 26-feet out with the Kings trailing by three and 11 seconds still remaining on the shot clock. In the second quarter, Cousins also picked up his 14th technical of the season for slamming his hands down on the scorer’s table. He is two techs away from an automatic suspension.
- Cousins and Howard battled, but the Lakers big man came out on top both statistically and in the win/loss column. Howard finished the game with 24 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in the win.
- Jason Thompson played well, but Keith Smart seemed to forget about him late. The Kings starting power forward scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds in 24 minutes of action, but sat the entire fourth quarter for Patrick Patterson, who went scoreless on the night and missed three huge 3-point baskets in the game’s final five minutes.
- Marcus Thornton scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds tonight, but shot just 6-for-15 from the field. Smart turned to a line-up of Evans, Thornton and Salmons for long stretches, leaving Isaiah Thomas with just 25 minutes of playing time. Smart was playing the match-ups, but Thomas scored 10 points on just five shots and finished with a 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Stat of the Night: After turning the ball over just three times in the first half, the Kings spun out in the third quarter, handing it over to the Lakers seven times, leading to 10 easy points.
- James Ham
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Health-wise, kind of shape will Kobe Bryant be?
Kobe Bryant had no issues getting the points he needed to pass Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list. He overcame a slow start to surpass Wilt in the second quarter with a jump shot in the paint to score his 31,421st point. After getting that out the way, Bryant focused on creating for his teammates. With Steve Nash leaving the game early due to a strained hamstring, Bryant finished with a season-high 14 assists, one shy of matching a career best.
2. Over or under 10-made threes for the Kings tonight?
The Kings appeared on their way to a good night from beyond the arc. In the first quarter alone, they made 4-of-5 attempts from 3-point distance. But in the ensuing three periods, they went freezing cold, making just 3-of-19 from distance. They finished the evening just three makes away from hitting 10.
3. Over or under 23 assists for the Kings tonight?
Like their three-point shooting, the Kings started off like they were headed for a good night passing the basketball. Sacramento dished out 10 assists in the first quarter and had 13 by halftime. However, their ball movement stagnated dramatically the rest of the game and they recorded just 19 assists in defeat. Meanwhile for Los Angeles, Bryant and Pau Gasol combined to dish out 24 of the Lakers’ 28 assists.
- Jonathan Santiago
Quotes of the Game
Keith Smart on the Kings’ final possession in the fourth quarter where DeMarcus Cousins attempted two threes:
I didn’t design for that. Sometimes, the defense does a better job than you think they will. There was one play where we had Marcus Thornton taking the ball out and it was going to be a hand-back. They jumped in his path and denied the swing of the basketball. We got the catch that we wanted because we knew that Pau Gasol would not pressure him to get the catch. But then Jodie Meeks did a great job of not allowing Thornton to get the ball back. Then you’re stuck with a play. Some calls looked different to me. I’ll have to look at the film to see where the truth really was.
Jason Thompson on not playing late:
I don’t know why I didn’t, but sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow. Especially those games, when you’re in good rhythm and it’s positive, it’s not like you were down or anything like that. You were definitely up at times and energy was there, making shots, feeling good. The last place I want to be is watching it from the bench. For me being a veteran, (this) being my fifth year, you try not to get too frustrated. You try and learn from it.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.