The Christmas Day season opening loss to the Chicago Bulls was a heartbreaker for the Los Angeles Lakers as the result could have easily gone the other way if Derrick Rose missed his last shot or if Kobe Bryant had decided to pass the ball to a wide open Pau Gasol once getting triple teamed on his last shot. Despite the loss, the outlook for the season wasn’t bad for the Lakers until they went head-to-head against the division rival Sacramento Kings just a day later at Power Balance Pavilion.
The Sacramento Kings have added some talented young players that like Tyreke Evans (20 points), DeMarcus Cousins (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Marcus Thornton (team-high 27 points) over the last few years, but just haven ‘t been able to compete with the best of the best in the Western Conference like the Los Angeles Lakers. This season that could drastically change for this struggling NBA franchise as the Kings have added even more youth and depth to their already talented roster and look pretty good thus far with new comers Jimmer Fredette (6 points), John Salmons (13 points), Travis Outlaw (6 points) and rookie Isaiah Thomas (5 points).
Usually, adding youth and inexperienced players is a step in the wrong direction for an NBA franchise, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in this situation after the Sacramento Kings looked like a playoff team against Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. The Lakers battled back in the fourth quarter to cut the sizeable lead to just three points, but the Kings kept their foot on the gas pedal and ultimately came out on top, 100-91.
There were plenty of questionable calls that went against the Lakers late in this game with the Kings, but it would be hard to argue that Sacramento wasn’t the better all-around team on Monday night at Power Balance Pavilion. Kobe Bryant led the way in the scoring department for the Lakers as usual with 29 points, but didn’t shoot a great percentage by going 10-of-24 from the floor and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
The Black Mamba didn’t get much help offensively in the second game of the season with only Pau Gasol (15 points, 9 rebounds) and Metta World Peace (19 points) scoring in double figures. The three other starters besides Kobe and Gasol were Derek Fisher, Devin Ebanks and Josh McRoberts who combined for a total of 14 points.
One thing take away from this game is that new Lakers head coach Mike Brown needs to work on which players should be on the floor more than others. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace all got their minutes, but I believe Devin Ebanks (18 minutes), Josh McRoberts (19 minutes) and rookie Darius Morris (DNP) need more time out there.
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Next Lakers Game: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers Tues. Dec. 27, 2011 7:30 p.m. PST