Rapid Reaction: Lakers 126, Kings 122
February, 28, 2014
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- A common refrain from Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni this season has been that if his team spent half the amount of energy caring about its defense as it cared about its offense, it could end up being a half-decent team.
And even though D'Antoni's reputation in his decade-plus in the league with Denver, Phoenix, New York and now Los Angeles is that his mind works the same way -- prioritizing offense over defense -- the coach claimed when asked about his practice plans last week that 75 percent of the team sessions are spent on the defensive end.
Which brings us to Friday, where the Lakers faced an equally inept Sacramento Kings team that came into the night with 20 wins to L.A.'s 19. It was almost as if both teams gave one another a wink-wink before tipoff that defense never made an appearance at Staples Center.
What fans did witness was some entertaining basketball from two teams that came into the night a combined 37 games under .500, which should be considered an accomplishment in itself.
An evening that began with injured guard Nick Young ruminating about the state of his team stating, "Some games you see it and you feel like it’s all individuals," turned into a full-on display of L.A. clicking like clockwork on the offensive end.
Young wasn't the only one whose pregame disposition belied what was about to occur.
"I don’t think you’re ever as a coach you’re like, ‘Oh boy, we got all 15 guys really happy,'" D'Antoni said. "There’s always a couple guys that use the old, ‘I don’t know my role.’ Well, OK. That’s kind of a cop out. What do you mean you don’t know your role?
"You play hard and then when the coach tells you to go in, you go in. That’s your role."
And then the Lakers went out and seemingly every player was on a roll.
It was a good win for a team that needed something to feel good about.
How it happened: The Lakers closed the third quarter on a 16-6 run to cut an 11-point halftime deficit that had grown down to four. What was already a high-scoring night for both teams exploded in the third, when L.A. outscored Sacramento 41-34. The Lakers erased the rest of the Kings' cushion as they stayed hot with 31 points in the fourth to snap a three-game losing streak.
What it means: That halftime talk between Pau Gasol and Jordan Farmar in Memphis seems to have paid off. The former championship teammates led the way together against the Kings, with Farmar scoring a career-high 30 points and Gasol doing a bit of everything, with 22 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Now the question begs: Just how many of these final 23 games will the Lakers win if they keep it up?
Hits: Jodie Meeks scored 22 points on 8-for-8 shooting.
MarShon Brooks had 23 points off the bench, including a couple of banked-in layups in the game's final minutes to seal the deal.
Ryan Kelly only had five points in the scoring extravaganza but contributed a big block late, when Sacramento was threatening.
Wesley Johnson had 12 points and 12 rebounds as he continues to adapt to playing the stretch 4 role.
Kendall Marshall had 10 assists.
Misses: L.A. allowed the Kings to score 122 points. Can't ignore that.
The Lakers had 17 turnovers leading to 25 points for Sacramento.
Stat of the game: 8-for-10. That was Farmar's line from deep. His eight made 3-pointers also were a career high.
Up next: The Lakers have no games the rest of the weekend, gearing up for a pair of back-to-backs next week: Monday in Portland followed by Tuesday at home against New Orleans and then Thursday at home against the Clippers followed by Friday on the road in Denver.