As has repeatedly been the case in recent years, the Lakers and Kings had another exciting showdown on Sunday. And while they forced overtime with another late comeback, a lack of defensive stops plagued the Lakers as they fell to the Kings, 132-127.
Anthony Davis was impressive for a second game in a row, tallying 30 points with 16 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists. LeBron James flirted with a triple-double at 27 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
Prince worked hard to fulfill his promise of shooting 40% from the 3-point line with 20 points on 5-13 3-point shooting while Austin Reaves was far on the other end of the spectrum, shooting a horrid 1-12 from the field to continue his bad start to the year.
The Lakers' largely underwhelming opening two games bled into the third game of the season. Facing a Kings side designed to exploit many of the Lakers’ weaknesses, Sacramento jumped out to a lead and controlled the game from the onset.
The Lakers kept within arms reach and trailed 23-20 after a 3-pointer by Austin Reaves, who struggled mightily on the night. However, Sacramento closed the frame on an 18-8 run to open up a 41-28 lead heading into the second frame. Early struggles at the free throw line plagued the Lakers, even if they finished the night 26-34 from the free throw line.
This pass from LeBron is next level pic.twitter.com/lSHVX1tRjk— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 30, 2023
The lead hovered around double digits before a Lakers run that was capped off with an AD layup that cut the margin to 56-53. Once again, though, the Lakers did not finish a quarter strong, a recurring trend from last season as well.
Seven points in the final 81 seconds of the frame turned a four-point game into a double-digit lead at the break. All three field goals were either scored or assisted by DeAaron Fox.
In a bit of deja vu all over again, the Lakers spent the third quarter reeling the Kings back in, led by Taurean Prince. In his best game as a Laker so far, Prince knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to pull the Lakers within one at 76-75.
Improbably, the Lakers closed a quarter strong and kept the margin to four points. As a result, a strong run from the Lakers in the fourth quarter this time, led by Rui Hachimura in his first fourth-quarter minutes of the season, gave them their first lead of the game.
Rui’s second 3-pointer in the opening 96 seconds of the quarter pushed the Lakers ahead 91-90 and baskets from Rui’s mentor LeBron and Rui himself helped the lead grow to 95-92.
From there, the two sides traded baskets and runs in a finish to the wire. Despite his strong night, Davis struggled around the rim in the fourth as the Lakers continued leaving points on the board.
One of the biggest plays of the quarter, though, came on a loose ball foul that resulted in Domantas Sabonis fouling out of the game with just under three minutes remaining. The Lakers couldn’t take advantage, though, and a missed 3-pointer from Gabe Vincent and a made 3-pointer from Keegan Murray gave Sacramento a 113-106 lead with 90 seconds left.
Two huge plays from D’Angelo Russell kept the Lakers alive, first a 3-pointer from the wing before drawing a foul on the fastbreak. Anthony Davis tied the game with a putback on a missed Prince layup.
While Gabe Vincent did everything in his power to give the game away with a foul 80 feet from the basket with 25 seconds remaining, LeBron saved the day with a layup in response. The Lakers got the stop they needed — even if it was an open miss — to finish the fourth and send the game to overtime.
A Malik Monk and-one and a free throw from Kevin Huerter gave the Kings a 124-120 lead but an impressive 3-pointer falling out of bounds by LeBron pulled them back within one.
A 3-pointer from Monk extended the lead back to four and while LeBron’s dunk pulled them back within two, Huerter iced the game with his own 3-pointer, all of that coming with Fox on the bench after turning his ankle late in the fourth.
While there has been much discussion about the offense so far this season, the defense left so much to be desired on Sunday. The Kings are a team that is going to be a tough matchup for the Lakers all season with their speed and the Lakers relative lack of it. Add in Jarred Vanderbilt’s injury and the Lakers are also down one of their best defenders.
But consistent breakdowns on that end of the court led to far too many clean looks for Sacramento, especially down the stretch in overtime. The offense did enough on Sunday to earn the win, even on a night when Reaves continued to struggle.
And now, they have to turn around and play a young Magic team at home on the second night of a back-to-back after playing an overtime game. The Lakers have a number of issues that need fixed and the games are stacking up one after another right now.
Tip-off for Monday’s game against Orlando is slated for 7:30 p.m. PT on NBA TV and Spectrum Sportsnet.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.