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Kobe Bryant Struggles, and Kings Conquer Lakers

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Kobe Bryant's struggled, and the Lakers lose again in Sacramento.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers played a competitive first half, but were unable to hang with the Kings in the second half and especially the fourth quarter and thus fell for their third consecutive loss.

Los Angeles had no answer for DeMarcus Cousins inside, who put up 15 points, five rebounds, and two steals and two blocks in the first half alone, and finished with 29, 14, 2, and 3 in those totals. While Cousins was "held" below 50% from the field (9-19 shooting) some of this holding resulted in foul calls on the Lakers big men, who sent Cousins to the free throw line 15 times on the night to convert 11 freebies.

Players on both squads appeared to be affected by the early start, with both teams shooting poorly (Lakers 37.9% and Kings 48.1%) on the night. Leading these shooting struggles were Kobe Bryant and Jordan Hill, who shot a combined 12-42 to continue the streak ugly offense from the starting five. When Kobe scored 9 quick third quarter points, it appeared his field goal percentage would possibly recover, but he instead ultimately cratered, finishing with 25 points on 8-30 shooting with 9 turnovers in one of his worst games of the season. Compounding the poor play from Kobe was his defense, as he let sophomore guard Ben McLemore get loose for  23 points on 10-18 shooting while being guarded primarily by Bryant and hitting an array of wide open jumpers. This clear fatigue and innefectiveness from Bryant did not stop head coach Byron Scott from playing his 36-year old shooting guard the most minutes of any player on the team with 38.

About the only positive for LA in this contest was some further strong play from Nick Young, who scored 26 points on 7-14 shooting, including another four-point play in the fourth quarter.

Another semi-competitive but ultimately fruitless effort for the Lakers, who must move on and get ready to play the Warriors on Tuesday before a Christmas Day reunion with old friend Pau Gasol in Chicago.