Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Three days after relinquishing a 15-point fourth quarter lead, only to have their hearts broken on a last-second buzzer beater by Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Los Angeles Lakers returned the favor, erasing an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to stun the Sacramento Kings, 121-114, on Sunday night at Staples Center.
"It's definitely a little payback," said Lakers guard Kyle Kuzma of the win. "We thought we played well enough to get a win [on Thursday]. So tonight was kinda a 'must-win' and we got the job done."
It was the second contest in three days between the two teams, and the Lakers clearly learned from their loss up North, as they closed out the game with clutch buckets by Brandon Ingram, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Josh Hart.
"BI [Brandon Ingram] did a great job of finding guys," said Hart. "I was a little bit more aggressive, but they put me in a good position to be succesful."
The trio of Ingram, Caldwell-Pope, and Hart combined for 69 points.
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"Tonight Brandon [Ingram] was at his best. KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] was a huge spark off the bench. Josh [Hart] was just all over the floor hustling," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton of the trio. "It wasn't the prettiest game for us, but we scrapped and found a way. I'm really happy with our guys."
The Kings had their own trio of scorers, as De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic combined for 68 points for Sacramento.
"It was great seeing some shots fall down," said Hield who struggled in the game on Thursday in Sacramento. "We all had some great looks, just got to put it in the hole."
The Lakers got a little reinforcement as starting center JaVale McGee returned from a seven-game absence, but now matter how much you gussy up the lineup, life without the King is still difficult.
"It was nice to have JaVale back out there tonight," said Walton. "He wanted more minutes than he got, but for just our whole team, it was nice to have him back on the court."
McGee had eight points and 12 rebounds in 23 minutes, but after watching Thursday's game from the bench, he definitely believed he made a difference in the outcome on Sunday.
"I contested a lot of shot and altered a lot of shots that would have gone in if I wasn't there," said McGee. "It was good to be back."
LeBron James missed his third consecutive game with a strained left groin, but the Lakers earned their first win without their superstar on the court.
"It feels good," said Caldwell-Pope of the victory. "To win without two key players it feels good to stop that bleeding and get a win."
The Kings led by four at the half, and held a 85-74 lead with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter. The Lakers quickly erased the deficit, scoring 12 unanswered points to take a one-point lead, 86-85.
"It's the reverse of what happened in Sacramento," said Kings' guard Buddy Hield. "They made shots down the stretch and we didn't make enough shots to close it out."
Ingram finished with 21 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds. Kyle Kuzma had 18 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Lonzo Ball chipped in 13 points.
"This was the most comfortable I've felt for sure," said Ingram of his performance as a floor general. "As the game went on, I was locked in on key guys."
Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with a season-high 26 points off the bench. The Lakers shot a season-high 44 three-point attempts, making 15 of them.
"It's not bad," joked Caldwell-Pop of the 44 three-point attempts. "We made most of them at key points. After the first two I made, that shot from the logo went in, so I thought whatever I throw up was going to go in, so I just kept shooting."
De'Aaron Fox also had 26 points in the loss, Hield and Bogdanovic each had 21.
LeBron James celebrated his 34th birthday on Sunday, but was forced to watch the game from the bench as he missed his third consecutive game with a strained left groin injury.
Notes and Next
LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley all missed the game. Josh Hart scored 17 points in the first half, a career-high for a single half.
Lakers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 2nd.