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Lakers keep it close, but can’t overcome injuries to beat Kings

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The Lakers nearly forced overtime against the Kings, despite playing without three starters and Alex Caruso.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

If you can believe it, the Los Angeles Lakers are officially finished with the first half of their regular season schedule after losing to the Sacramento Kings 123-120 on Wednesday.

Both teams came into Wednesday night’s game a little banged up, but the Kings had all of their regular starters available. The Lakers couldn’t say the same with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol all sidelined, in addition to key reserve Alex Caruso. Still, both teams weren’t at full strength, so the fact that the game was the least bit entertaining is a win in and of itself. Unfortunately, wins for the fans don’t count as wins for the team.

Despite a few a starter-worthy performers from their role players — Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schröder combined for 53 points — the Lakers weren’t able to hand the Kings their 11th loss in 12 games. They can still walk away with their heads held high, though, because they nearly beat the Kings while playing Jared Dudley and Alfonzo McKinnie over 30 minutes and starting 10-day contract signing Damian Jones at center. Not to mention the fact that the referees spotted the Kings two points: one on a two from Buddy Hield that was called a three and never reviewed, and one for calling a technical on Montrezl Harrell for yelling “And-1” after a basket.

Despite all that, they were a missed Kuzma buzzer-beater away from overtime.That’s basically a moral victory.

With their latest loss, the Lakers (24-13) fell to the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, trailing the LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. The good news is that they’re unlikely to fall much further because there are three games separating them and the No. 5 seed San Antonio Spurs.

The Lakers will resume their season on March 12, when they’re set to host the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center. If you need your Lakers fix in the meantime, LeBron James will be playing in the 2021 NBA All-Star game in Atlanta on Sunday.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.