CK Press Box Report: Sacramento Kings 107, Los Angeles Lakers 102
One could say that Ray McCallum’s growth the last five games has been both exponential and exceptional. After setting a career-high in points just one game ago against the New Orleans Pelicans, the rookie guard did so again Wednesday evening in a 107-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Every time that I think he can’t get better, he proves me wrong,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after Wednesday’s win.
McCallum came alive to finish with a career-best 27 points in the five-point victory. The 22-year-old scored 17 of his 27 points in the first half where he came alive to torch a depleted Lakers squad.
McCallum made his fifth-straight start following a leg injury to Isaiah Thomas. The Kings starting point guard has missed several games due to a deep thigh bruise he sustained more than a week ago against the Milwaukee Bucks. Thomas underwent an MRI yesterday, however the results have yet to be announced.
Despite Thomas’ absence, McCallum has risen to the occasion and filled the void. As a starter, he’s averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists in just about 45 minutes a night.
“All year I’ve just been watching, watching and watching,” McCallum said after the game. “Learning and just waiting for a chance, waiting for an opportunity. Sometimes opportunities only come once and when they come you’ve got to take advantage of it. That’s what I’m trying to do now, just making the most of it.”
With McCallum at the helm, the Kings also found a way to limit their turnovers in Wednesday night’s victory. After averaging roughly 17 turnovers a game in the month of March, the Kings turned the ball over just eight times in the win over the Lakers. McCallum, himself, had just three turnovers in just about 46 minutes of action.
The Lakers’ injury woes struck them once again, particularly before Wednesday’s game. Pau Gasol did not play after suffering from a severe case of vertigo and Chris Kaman was sidelined as well with a sore left calf. To make matters worst, Xavier Henry also missed tonight’s game with a torn ligament in his left wrist and sore right knee. The Lakers were already playing without Jordan Farmar (strained groin), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and of course, Kobe Bryant (leg fracture).
The Lakers’ loss on Wednesday also puts a rare black-eye on the storied franchise’s history. It was their 50th defeat of the season, making it the first time since 1975-76 that the Lakers will post a season with at least 50 losses.
The Kings, meanwhile, move to 27-48 overall and 16-21 at home. They return to action on Friday when they visit the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.
Notes and Analysis
- With Isaiah Thomas missing his fifth-straight game with a deep thigh bruise, Ray McCallum continued his strong play. He finished with a career-high 27 points on 12-for-22 shooting and a team-high five assists. You can see the confidence building in this rookie with every game he plays.
- Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman took the night off for the Lakers, leaving only Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre to slow down DeMarcus Cousins. The plan didn’t work. Cousins was unstoppable, dropping in 20 points and 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action due to foul trouble.
- Rudy Gay turned on the jets and put on a dunking exhibition Wednesday at Sleep Train Arena. The veteran wing scored 31 points on 12-for-24 shooting and added five rebounds in the win. This was Gay’s eighth 30-point game this season as a Sacramento King.
- Ben McLemore has now scored in double-figures in six consecutive games after scoring 12 against Los Angeles. The rookie shooting guard shot 5-for-11 and played 45 minutes with only one turnover and two fouls.
- Travis Outlaw provided the bench scoring, finishing with 11 points on 3-for-8 shooting in 32 minutes. The 12-year vet has provided solid play of late off the Kings bench.
- Jason Thompson has become the forgotten man in Sacramento, but he found a way to be productive in his 23 minutes of action without having a single play run for him. The veteran forward scored just two points, but finished with 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks in the win. A very Reggie Evans-esque night for the Thompson.
- Stat of the Night: Ray McCallum has now scored a new career-high in three consecutive games.
Quote of the Night
Michael Malone on what’s been most impressive about Ray McCallum’s play of late:
“The biggest thing that impresses me isn’t his scoring and it isn’t his assists, it’s his demeanor, his composure, and his poise. For him to be a young rookie who hasn’t played much this year—to exhibit all those attributes at such an early age is remarkable. He’s only going to get better. This game is so much mental work and I think that Ray has a great way about him.”
Video shot and edited by Tobin Halsey.