Over the last 10 games, the Lakers have had the sixth-worst offense in the NBA and shot 33.8% from deep, the fifth-worst percentage in the league. So to say they were due for some upwards regression is an understatement, but even with that in mind, their explosion from distance against the Sacramento Kings was almost unbelievable.
The Lakers hit 17 threes on Friday, shooting an absolutely blazing 51.5% from behind the arc to wallop the Kings in a 115-94 victory. That is the second-best percentage they’ve shot from deep this season, and third-most threes they’ve made in a game.
Just about everyone shot well in this one, but leading the way was Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers’ stopgap starter scorched the Kings from everywhere on the floor, dunking, hitting hook shots and gliding into confident jumpers all night. Apparently Luke Walton’s presence in the building is something akin to PEDs for Kuzma, who flamed his former coach’s new team for 30 points.
His previous season-high? 25... Against these same Kings. There might be something to this theory.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also deserves special mention. The team’s starting shooting guard has caught a lot of flack for his shooting woes and hesitancy to let fly this season, but tonight was the return of Bubble KCP. Caldwell-Pope was flying up and down the court in transition and confidently running to the corners, hunting threes instead of reluctantly taking them, a predator feeding on the fleshy gaps in the Kings’ woeful defense. He finished the night with 13 points while shooting 4-7 from deep, and was far more impactful than his statline would indicate with his activity.
With this victory, the Lakers are now 31-18 on the season, still clinging to fourth place in the Western Conference despite their recent slide without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Hot shooting or no, this team is continuing to fight, and that’s all anyone can ask of them during this stretch. It’s been quite the display of mental toughness, and the team deserves to be appreciated for their efforts, even if it isn’t always pretty without the two stars they orbit around.
They will now head back to Los Angeles for the second game of this seven-game “road” trip, in which they will play the Clippers at Staples Center on Sunday. The team will get Saturday off to rest, a sorely needed break as Andre Drummond (toe), Wesley Matthews (who left Friday’s game with a neck injury) and the rest of the team continue to recover.