The Kings missed a chance to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers for a second consecutive time Sunday night, falling 121-114 at Staples Center. Here are three takeaways from the game:
Rough period for the fourth-quarter Kings
The Kings are the NBA’s top scoring team in the fourth quarter. They’ve used final-period rallies to come back from double-digit deficits in recent games, including their latest victory Thursday, when they outscored the Lakers 33-21 and erased a 15-point deficit.
What happened Sunday night wasn’t what the Kings have shown recently. Sacramento was outscored 29-18 overall, including an 18-4 stretch for the Lakers in the final 4 1/2 minutes.
“It’s like a reverse of what happened in our game in Sacramento,” said guard Buddy Hield, who scored 21 points. “They made shots down the stretch and we didn’t. We didn’t close out.”
The Kings (19-17) couldn’t get shots to fall despite good looks. They were 8 of 24 (33.3 percent), but the most glaring stat was 3-point shooting. Sacramento, which leads the league at 40.4 percent from outside in the fourth quarter, was just 1 of 10 from beyond the arc Sunday.
“We missed the open shots we had and some possessions we just didn’t do what we wanted,” said De’Aaron Fox, who led the Kings with 26 points and seven assists.
The Lakers didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard in the period, but two more field goals overall, three more 3s and four more free throws helped L.A. pull away.
Defense needs to improve
Scoring isn’t an issue for the Kings. At 115.2 points per game, the Kings are fifth in the league in that department.
However, they’re among the bottom five in points allowed. The 121 the Kings surrendered is about four points more than what teams have averaged against them this season.
“In the last few games that we’ve won, we’ve gotten stops down the stretch,” Fox said. “We didn’t do that today.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who led the Lakers with 26 points off the bench, had seven in the fourth quarter.
Heading into 2019 with a winning record
Despite the loss, the Kings will head into the new year with a plus-.500 record for the first time in 13 years, when they were 18-9.
The Kings tip off 2019 with a four-game homestand starting New Year’s Day with the Portland Trail Blazers, the only Western Conference team they haven’t faced, followed by the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic.
The Kings are ninth in the Western Conference, a half-game out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Still, there’s plenty of time, as Sacramento hasn’t hit the midpoint of its season.
That doesn’t mean breaking the 12-season postseason skid isn’t on the Kings’ minds.
“Trying to get into the playoffs in this conference, you really start thinking about the ones you let slip,” Fox said.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News