The Lakers shot 60% from the field. They set a franchise record with 19 made three pointers and an unfathomable 70% shooting from long range. Jordan Farmar hit a career high with 30 points, while Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks and MarShon Brooks all went for over 20 points. Offensively, it was the type of performance you'd like to see out of Mike D'Antoni's teams--flying up and down the court, taking an seemingly infinite number of three pointers and generally looking a runaway train. It was beautiful. Kind of.
And yet, somehow the Lakers had to pull from behind in the fourth quarter and only won by 4 points. Such is life for the 2013-2014 team.
The Kings couldn't stop a red hot LA squad from destroying them on the perimeter, a game-long problem that was sure to drive coach Mike Malone insane. Most of this was due to Farmar, who, mainly unguarded, hit 8 of 10 three-pointers, making up the bulk of his 30 points on the night. Looking at the box score, it seems that if not for Jordan's heroics, the Lakers could have very well lost a game when they shot 60%.
To say the least, LA wasn't at it's best when they weren't trying to score. Defensively, the Lakers were awful, ceding over 50% shooting to Sacramento and sending the team to the line 32 times. They also only managed 5 steals the entire night from an inexperienced Kings team that's no stranger to fumbling the rock. Even without the suspended DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings still outrebounded the Lakers by 13, which included an embarrassing 15-2 advantage on the offensive boards. It was the type of woeful defensive performance Lakers fans have become accustomed to, but the very same could be said about Sacramento this year (and for the past several, honestly).
However, in some ways, one can hardly blame the Lakers on the floor for their lack of defense and rebounding. After all, MDA decided that in a game without Boogie Cousins on one end, he'd go small for most of the game. Big men Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman and Robert Sacre played only a combined 15 minutes--yes, 15 minutes--while Pau Gasol (39 minutes) and Wesley Johnson (36 minutes) sopped up the time in the front court. In his defense, Johnson finished with a double-double and three blocks, but obviously couldn't be a paint protector like Sacre or Hill, at times. Sac notched an unbelievable 66 points in the lane, a lot of damage that came directly or indirectly from point guard Isaiah Thomas. The 5'9" destroyer took it to the Lakers once again, scoring 26 points on 10 for 16 shooting.
If this sounds like a criticism of the Lakers despite their win... it is. They nearly lost a game in which they shot 60% and if not for Jordan Farmar bailing them out with a performance he's likely to never sniff again. They were soundly eviscerated on the boards, likely a symptom of their inability to control the pace of the game and the bigs riding the pine. They turned the ball over 17 times, which isn't extraordinarily irregular, but couldn't force another rather inexperienced team to do the same.
The Lakers didn't play well tonight, but neither did the Kings. While the home crowd may have howled with excitement over Farmar's extraordinary night (which I'm not trying to take away from) and MarShon's Brooks amazing shot-making ability, it's extremely clear to me that this team is focused on establishing free agent market value for their players rather than winning. That's fine. I don't begrudge them for it. But in terms of basketball viewing for the hoop head junkie? It's not something I'm interested in.
Like I wrote in the preview for this game, even if there is a winner, there's no true victor. Even in a Lakers W, it still feels like a loss in many ways.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino