Due to a sore right shoulder, Kobe Bryant took the night off on Tuesday.
Judging by the first six minutes of the game, his Los Angeles Lakers' teammates may as well have also taken the night off. At the six-minute mark, the Kings led 18-4. At that point, the end result never truly seemed in doubt, as the Kings would eventually win by a final score of 106-98.
Rajon Rondo controlled the tempo of the game and kept Sacramento in a cruise control with nine points, six rebounds and 12 assists. Former UCLA Bruin Darren Collison also came up big for the visitors with 22 points on 10-14 shooting on the night. DeMarcus Cousins would finish tied for game-high honors with Collison with 22 points.
For the second straight game, the Lakers' starters doomed the team on Tuesday. And again, the Lakers' bench did its best to salvage the game and make it competitive. After trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter, LA pulled to within six points halfway through the second quarter. However, the starters would return and that deficit would balloon to 16 points at the intermission.
After the break, the starters again laid an egg. To start the third period, the Lakers' starters dug a 23-point hole, but thanks to craft basketball by the bench players--namely Lou Williams, Marcelo Huertas and Robert Sacre--the Lakers managed to trim that difference to eight points with about nine minutes showing on the game clock.
Unfortunately for the home team, the bench would not be able to sustain its drive and the Kings again seemingly took hold of the game and increased their advantage to 16 points with 6:39 showing on the game clock.
At that point, Lakers coach Byron Scott took a chance on putting rookie D’Angelo Russell back into the game. A quick run ensued and cut the game to 10 points. Shortly thereafter, Scott put in Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle to finish with a new-look lineup of Russell, Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Randle and Sacre. Four of those five Lakers had been drafter in 2014 or 2015.
The young lineup of rookies and second year players, along with Sacre, pulled LA within six points with 3:14 remaining in the game and again at the 2:46 mark. The Kings, however, continued to score down the stretch, as LA could not get the defensive stops it desperately needed. Eventually, time ran out, and the Kings walked away victorious.
When analyzing why the Lakers lost Tuesday's game, LA failed to take care of the basketball throughout the night, and Sacramento did not hesitate to capitalize on LA's mistakes. The Kings scored 30 points off the Lakers' 22 turnovers. Sacramento also turned the ball over 17 times, but the Lakers only managed 17 points off those turnovers. Those 13 points proved to be the difference between winning and losing.
LA dropped to 14-54 with the loss, and Sacramento improved to 26-40 with the victory. Next, the Lakers face the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at Staples Center.