A Jekyll-and-Hyde game doomed the Lakers, as they looked like the team that started the season 6-4 in the first half, but then regressed to the one currently on a seven-game losing streak during the back end of a 116-92 loss to Sacramento.
Los Angeles (10-17) took a nine-point lead into halftime, but it was quickly knocked down by an absurd third quarter from their hosts.
With head coach Luke Walton watching on TV after being ejected in the first quarter, the Kings (9-15) blitzed LA in the third, 39-13, holding the Lakers to their fewest points in any period this season.
“I felt like for the first time this season we kind of gave up,” Walton said, “which is disheartening because our group has been very resilient all year long and take pride in competing and doing it together.”
The trouble began early for LA, as Walton was tossed for arguing a no-call by referees when DeMarcus Cousins and Julius Randle both ended up on the floor after jostling for position with one another.
“I love coach,” said Randle, who shot just 1-of-7 but had eight rebounds. “He has our back 100 per cent. It makes you want to go out there and bust your butt for him.”
Jordan Clarkson attempted to guide Walton away from the refs, but Walton wanted his opinion heard and was served two technical fouls in response.
“I just felt like I needed to stand up for my guys,” Walton said. “I felt like what happened on the floor wasn’t right. My only concern is our guys in the locker room and our team. If I feel like something’s not right, I’m gonna stand up for my guys.”
Associate head coach Brian Shaw took over from there, as Sacramento rolled off ten unanswered points for a 19-17 lead. But the Lakers made some moves in the next frame.
Down 47-44 with four minutes left in the half, D’Angelo Russell provided some artful direction of the Lakers’ offense.
The purple and gold entered halftime on a 14-2 run after Russell hit a 3-pointer, pull-up jumper and two free throws, while also dishing a pair of assists to Luol Deng on a screen-and-roll dunk and another triple.
However, despite losing starters Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore to injuries early in the game, the Kings were ready for the second half.
Sacramento improbably hit 15 of its first 16 shots in the second half, as they quickly tied the game at 60 and then erupted on a 23-2 roll from there.
Cousins dominated the period, scoring 16 of his 31 points, while Darren Collison added 10.
The Kings never let the Lakers back into it, outscoring them by 33 in the second half.
Cousins led all players by putting up 31 points, 16 rebounds and five assists (though he did commit eight turnovers), while Collison scored 20.
The Lakers, meanwhile, were led by Russell who scored 17 points in 20 minutes with his playing time restricted due to recent injury. Nick Young also had a minutes cap, playing 26 while shooting just 3-of-10.
While the Kings shot 56.0 per cent and were able to score 66 points in the paint thanks to Cousins’ impact, the Lakers were unable to simply feed it to their go-to scorer.
Lou Williams, who had averaged 32.2 points in his last five games, went just 3-of-12 from the field, finishing with 14 points.
The Lakers have still yet to win in December 12 days into the month.
“I think we lost some of our confidence and our swagger and outside shooting with the injuries,” Walton said. “Then it’s kind of just been trying to fix that.”
In the other games last night Hornets went under to the Pacers 94-110, the Bucks lost to the Raptors 100-112, the Heat beat the Wizards 112-101, Nets trailed the Rockets 118-122, Mavericks pipped the Nuggets 112-92, and the Trail Blazers just missed out 120-121 to the Clippers.