With just two games remaining in the season the Los Angeles Lakers limped into Sacramento for a matchup against the Sacramento Kings. With Wesley Johnson and Dwight Buycks lost for the season due to injury (we have said that way too many times this year), D-League point guard Vander Blue was called up to give the Lakers another healthy body to put on the court. Jordan Hill was inserted into the starting lineup after being benched for the previous four contests, forcing Ryan Kelly to once again play out of position at small forward.
Hill got off to a hot start in the first quarter and led the team with 10 points. The Kings hung close thanks to some defensive miscues from LA and the quarter ended with the two teams knotted at 24. The game was marred by a number of bungled plays, blown layups, and missed defensive assignments by both teams, which isn't all that surprising considering the number of injured players on both sides. The Lakers received a bit of a scare when Jordan Clarkson tweaked his ankle after an acrobatic layup early, but he stayed in and played all but 49 seconds of this pointless game.
At halftime the game was tied 51-51, with Hill and his 14 points leading the way, while Jabari Brown had 11 points and five assists. The play of the first half went to Brown and Ed Davis, who connected for this dish and dunk:
The Kings opened the second half on an 8-2 run, but the Lakers battled back thanks to timely baskets from Hill and Clarkson. It may not have been pretty, but the third quarter ended with the Lakers down just one point and the game very much up for grabs in spite of the purple and gold's nearly non-existent transition defense.
Clarkson kept his foot on the gas pedal in the 4th, using his quickness to create space for his jumper and draining threes when the defense collapsed off of him. Unfortunately the Lakers' bigs struggled to contain the Kings drives to the hoop, and continued turnovers on the offensive end sealed their fate.
Adding injury to insult, the basketball gods changed their minds about Jordan Clarkson, who badly sprained his ankle late in the fourth quarter and had to leave the game. Before exiting Clarkson had played every possible minute and posted a team-high 23 points to go along with five rebounds, six assists, and five steals. His status for Wednesday's season finale is uncertain.
The play of the second half goes to Jordan Clarkson, who used a killer crossover to burn Andre Miller:
The Lakers get a rematch with the Kings in the season finale on Wednesday, and there is something on the line: a win would allow them to avoid having the worst winning percentage in franchise history. At least it's almost over.