Better effort. Better defense. Better result.
After a 49-point loss to the Utah Jazz the last time out, the Kings gave the Los Angeles Lakers a fight Friday night at Staples Center. In the end, Sacramento got the stops and found a way to pull one out by a final of 110-106.
Playing shorthanded once again, the Kings moved the ball well and gave everyone a shot to contribute. Tyrese Haliburton was the main scoring threat, but Sacramento gave a gritty effort, with seven players scoring in double-figures.
After missing 20 straight games with an ankle injury, LeBron James returned to action. He didn’t have his standard big numbers and when the Lakers needed a bucket, he failed to come through.
Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond battered the Kings in the post and Ben McLemore hurt the Kings from behind the arc.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings battled the Lakers for 48 minutes to come away with a stunning win to move to 26-37 on the season.
Haliburton has some huge shoes to fill with De’Aaron Fox out of action. In his last three starts as the Kings’ starting point guard, the rookie has posted 8, 10 and 8 assists. Against the Lakers, he continued that trend.
With his teammates clicking, Haliburton found his own offensive game. He was all over the court for Sacramento, making the game look easy against a very big and talented Lakers squad.
Haliburton finished with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including four makes from long range. He also chipped in 10 assists, four rebounds and two steals while tallying his fifth double-double of the season.
Since returning from injury, Richaun Holmes has been on a tear for the Kings. He put up a solid 22-point, nine-rebound, three-assist performance, including a few highlight reel dunks.
Holmes wasn’t the only tall guy to make an impact for Sacramento. Getting his second of his career, Chimezie Metu played with force and a little reckless abandon. He had 10 points and three rebounds in the first half before taking a nasty spill and missing the rest of the game.
Damian Jones came off the Kings’ bench to provide a spark. The newly signed big is active and loves to make posters. He finished with 10 points and two rebounds.
After missing 23 games with a broken left hand, Marvin Bagley returned to the court for Sacramento. The third-year big was a little rusty, but he had a few nice moments off the bench for the Kings.
With Metu out of action, Bagley stepped back into the starting lineup in the third and had a nice second half.
Bagley finished the game with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with four rebounds and two steals. He’s on a minutes restriction, but it was good to see him back out on the court after missing major time.