The Los Angeles Lakers turned a blowout into a game that came down to the final possession but came up short in a 118-115 loss to the Sacramento Kings. Lou Williams took a corner-three with a chance to send the game into overtime but it missed the mark, and the Kings avoided what would have been a nuclear meltdown in the second half.
The bigger loss for the Lakers could be D'Angelo Russell, though, who had his career night cut short after he rolled his ankle late in the fourth quarter. Russell scored a career-high 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting and was instrumental in giving the Lakers the lead after being down by as many as 27 points. D'Angelo tried to play on the ankle after the team took a timeout, but had to ask to be subbed after in the next possession.
Kobe Bryant's final game in Sacramento was incredibly memorable, with him turning back the clock for a team-high 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting. The highlight of the night might have been his high-flying alley-oop, but he hit an array of vintage moves through the first three quarters that Kings fans have seen all too many times. Bryant was great at attacking the paint, ending the night with a team-high eight free-throw attempts. Kobe sat out of the entire fourth quarter, making way for the youth to complete what would have been a crazy comeback.
Brandon Bass made huge plays through the second half, hustling to grab rebounds and every loose ball while also rotating all over the court. He did a phenomenal job playing man defense on DeMarcus Cousins down the stretch while protecting the rim, and certainly deserves credit for willing the Lakers back into a game they had no business being in. Jordan Clarkson was also key in the second-half push, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
The Kings had a nice first half, dropping 69 points on 59 percent shooting. Cousins scored a game-high 29 points, having his minutes cut in the second half because of early foul trouble. Julius Randle had trouble throughout the game, being called for offensive fouls, turning the ball over (five times) and struggling from the field. He did, however, pull down 10 rebounds and made a handful of positive contributions as the Lakers tried to turn a lopsided game around.
Kobe had a throwback performance, the Lakers almost pulled together to do the unthinkable, and Russell had one of his best games of his rookie season. It would've been nice to see the victory attached, but now we'll settle for D'Angelo's ankle injury being as minor as possible.
Good fight, good night.