Lakers 112, Kings 100: Kobe Got In and Out With a Triple-Double

SACRAMENTO CA - NOVEMBER 03: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a shot during their game against the Sacramento Kings at ARCO Arena on November 3 2010 in Sacramento California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

This isn't the type of win you spend a lot of time thinking about after a season's over. For NBA title aspirants, a midweek visit to the Sacramento Kings in early November is more or less a nonevent. You show up at the duly appointed hour, you win by a dozen or so (in this case, by a final score of 112 to 100), you move on to the next opponent.

But it's only in retrospect that the outcome seems predetermined. The Lakers were on part two of a back-to-back set, having played in and traveled from Los Angeles last night. Those are not ideal circumstances for one of the oldest teams in the league. The Kings are young and feisty, and their crowd sees a home game against the Lakers as a defining event of a season that'll probably end in the draft lottery. I'm not suggesting we should organize a parade down Figueroa tomorrow morning, just that a game like this is trickier than it looks on the surface. And in the war of attrition whose prize is home-court advantage in the Finals, these are the W's you need to pile up. Beating the Kings counts just as much in the standings as wins over anyone else.

Tonight's victory wasn't quite the bloody slaughter we've recently enjoyed against the likes of the Warriors and Grizzlies. The Kings played hard and sometimes well. They actually led midway through the second quarter. The Laker offense, though, is just overwhelming opponents right now. Point totals that last season would've amounted to peak form have become a nightly routine. The new season has been characterized by floor balance, fast ball movement, knock-down shooting and superb one-on-one play by the team's three stars, and all that continued this evening. Once again, Kobe Bryant was the lead assassin.

Kobe set fire to the Kings tonight with his 17th career triple-double. He scored 30 points on 26 shots (including free-throw possessions), dished 12 assists and collected 10 rebounds, and he did it all while committing only a single turnover. (Oh, and he became the Lakers' all-time leader in minutes played.) The numbers are great, obviously, but what I'm especially enjoying is the diversity of his offensive approach. Last season when he'd go off for big point totals, it often seemed a result of insanely hot outside shooting. So far in the new campaign, Kobe's breaking out all his moves - post fadeaways, baseline drives, step-back J's - and he's doing it without bringing the rest of the offense to a halt. You'll notice that we've yet to see any "Pau's not getting enough touches" stories this season.

That's because Pau's getting plenty of touches, and he's putting them to productive use. His head-to-head battle tonight against the rookie DeMarcus Cousins was a fun watch. Cousins worked hard against the Laker star. A knock on him coming out of college was his maturity, and I have no idea what the kid's like to deal with, but I love the fire and energy he showed against Gasol. Pau took him to class on several occasions, often with a quick baseline spin move that he seems to be breaking out more often this year, but Cousins had some nice moments as well. Pau, who scored 22 on 20 shots with 11 rebounds, won this one by unanimous decision, but Cousins's future tussles with both Gasol and Andrew Bynum will be a cool game-within-the-games for years to come.

The Kings' other young star, Tyreke Evans, had a quiet outing. He finished with 21 points, but nine of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was pretty much decided. Evans struggled with foul trouble and the effects of a first-quarter collision with Lamar Odom that sent him to the locker room for a few minutes. His two assists show his lack of playmaking tonight. His backcourt mates Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia were more efficient and productive.

The Kings had some missed opportunities early on that might've cost them a shot at the upset. In the first half they collected nine offensive rebounds (for a 36% offensive rebounding rate) but converted them into only four second-chance points. There were a lot of botched tip-ins and other close looks. In the second half, the Lakers cleaned up their defensive rebounding considerably, and the Kings just couldn't get a run together.

The most surprising aspect of the Lakers' 5-0 start has been their three-point shooting. Tonight they continued to bomb away, hitting 11 of 21 from behind the arc. They're now actually shooting a better percentage on threes (47%) than on twos (46%). Ron Artest hit three of four of his long-distance attempts, which we all hope will break him out of his early slump. I will say, in defense of Ron, that he looks much more comfortable in the Triangle this season. His shooting has been bad, but he's getting to the right spots on the floor and he's basically making good reads with the ball.

The Lake Show now heads home to deal with the Raptors on Friday night. In other words, the offensive stats are likely to get padded for at least one more game.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

L.A.

93

6

0.33

82

0.25

44

52

53

58

17

75

1.20

Sac.

93

8

0.25

61

0.24

49

27

47

49

25

83

1.08

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

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