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Final Score: Kings Blow Past Sluggish Lakers, 113-97

Kobe's brilliance and Jodie Meeks's coming-out party are for naught as Dwight and Pau disappear.

Ezra Shaw

The Lakers' victory over the Nets last night was their best of the season, but the price of that win came due up in Sacramento this evening. Plainly fatigued and lacking the competitive spirit they showed against Brooklyn, the Lake Show fell to the sorrowful Kings by 16 points, 97 to 113. The blowout unfolded in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Until then, the Lakers kept things reasonably close thanks to another fabulous effort by Kobe Bryant and a breakout performance by Jodie Meeks. But the lifeless, slow-footed Laker D utterly failed to generate stops when needed and fell apart completely down the stretch, much to the joy of a roisterous Sleep Train Arena crowd. The loss drops the Lakers to 6-6 as they head east for more road dates.

The Lakers' best stretch of play came early. In the middle of the first quarter they went on a 10-2 run to open up a seven-point lead over their hosts. They ended the first period up 21 to 15, appearing to lay the foundation for a decent effort. Familiar problems, though, were resurfacing, in particular turnovers and grim free-throw shooting. The offense was never as crisp or coordinated as it was in its best moments last night, with none of the quick, creative passing to guys around the rim. The Kings' offense, meanwhile, found its footing as Marcus Thornton and John Salmons began knocking down shots. At halftime the Kings led by a point, 42 to 41.

The momentum swung decisively in Sacramento's favor in the third. It was still a two-point game with five minutes left in the quarter when the Kings really began punishing the appalling Laker defense. They scored on five straight trips to open up a double-digit lead that the purple and gold would never overcome. Frankly, the game should've got out of hand earlier than it did, so pitiful was the Lakers' defensive form. It didn't only because Kobe and Meeks were sizzling from the field. Kobe finished with 38 points (11 for 20 shooting, 11 for 13 from the line) and Meeks scored 15 (5 for 9 shooting, 2 for 2 from the line). Those two kept it up as long as they could, but outside of occasional production from Metta World Peace and a scrappy Darius Morris, they got no help from anyone. Eventually the outside shooting of Kobe and Meeks went flat. Unfortunately, the Lakers' horrible defense stayed horrible, and in the final period the Kings tore off 40 points on 24 possessions to make the final score look appropriately embarrassing.

Those who should be the most embarrassed are Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Their numbers tonight were just awful - neither hit double digits in points or rebounds - and don't even do justice to how bad those two played. They looked tired and bored. Neither moved well defensively or fought hard on the glass. Dwight did almost nothing to protect the rim, his help defense consistently arriving late, when it arrived at all. He and Pau together played 78 minutes and collected just a pair of offensive boards. It was an unacceptable no-show from the two big men. Given Dwight's apparent determination to spend the game as motionless as possible it's hard to understand why he got 41 minutes of playing time and Jordan Hill only 17.

Once they overcame their first-quarter doldrums, the Kings had no trouble lighting up the scoreboard. Six players reached double figures in scoring, led by Thornton's 23. As a team they made 56% of their two-point shots and 47% of their threes. If the game had lasted five minutes longer they would've won by 30.

The road ahead isn't any easier for the Lakers, who have a Friday-Saturday back to back in Memphis and Dallas. Notwithstanding tonight's result, we here at Silver Screen and Roll hope you all have a splendid holiday. Cheers and happy Thanksgiving!










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