The Los Angeles Lakers were absolutely trounced in Sacramento, losing 132-114 at the hands of the Kings. LA's division rivals rode what was nearly a game-long 20 game lead, getting practically any shot they wanted against a squad that quite frankly looked completely confused every step of the way. The Lakers really couldn't get traction going on either end of the floor, but their defense looked especially atrocious tonight. Sacramento shot over 70 percent at the end of the first quarter and ended up squarely over 50% for the game.
While the overall score is certainly a gaudy number, even the box score doesn't quite illustrate just how easily the Kings filled up the basket from possession to possession. The Sac players waltzed to the rim on seemingly every play, punctuated with 8 made field goals from Rajon Rondo at the cup. The Kings simply got what they wanted at nearly every turn, especially on one-on-one possessions.
The Lakers defense was incredibly porous, bordering on helpless. Julius Randle couldn't even manage to stay on the court, committing five fouls in the third quarter and limiting himself to just under 20 minutes of playing time. Roy Hibbert, with four fouls of his own, managed just over 20 minutes. With the team's two starting bigs strapped to the bench for most of the game, LA's defensive rhythm never could quite get going.
Unfortunately for the Lake Show, it was only half the story. Offensively, they put up 114 points, sure, but it was ugly all the way. The Lakers looked allergic to passing, with assists on less than half of their made field goals. From Kobe Bryant to Randle to Nick Young to Lou Williams to D'Angelo Russell, the team played tonight as if they had never met their teammates, nor had they ever had a practice. Whatever the offensive scheme may be, the Lakers seem like they have zero grasp on it and quite often are simply standing around waiting for nothing at all to happen. It's too strange to be embarrassing, as I've rarely seen an NBA team so woefully under prepared and without an identity. The individual numbers don't even matter for LA--it was a horrible offensive effort all around.
For the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins (21/11), Rajon Rondo (21/3/8) and Willie Caulie-Stein (17/9) were the bright spots, though they truly didn't play a fantastic game as a whole. Sacramento largely played one-on-one ball as well and looked confused on defense--practically the same as the Lakers. Both teams featured a ton of young players, new roster additions and a coach still trying to implement a new offensive system. It just so happened that on this night, their flawed brand of basketball was just much less flawed than the team they played.
We all knew that this season would be a work in progress. We all knew that this Lakers team wasn't quite ready for prime time. We all knew that the youth movement was well under way and that this season was less about winning and more about growth, regardless the game's outcome.
But that still doesn't mean it's not incredibly hard to watch.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino