A season ago, the Sacramento Kings became known for their ability to stick around and make every game tough on their opponents. 11 games into the 2019-20 season, the Kings look like they are rediscovering that trait.
Sacramento took the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers all the way down the wire and even had a look in the final seconds to tie the game Friday night at Staples Center.
Harrison Barnes stumbled on his way to the basket and Anthony Davis flew in for a block to seal the 99-97 victory for the Lakers.
In a game where the Kings outshot, outrebounded, out-passed and out-defended the best team in the Western Conference, they still came up empty in the win column.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings dropped a close one to the Laker to fall to 4-7 on the season.
LeBron James still has it
In case anyone was wondering, James is still one of the best players on the planet.
With most of the Lakers having modest games, the 34-year-old superstar went to work. He dropped in 18 points before the fourth quarter and then he went into attack mode.
James finished the night with 29 points on 10-of-20 shooting and chipped in 11 assists to lead the Lakers to victory.
Father time will eventually come calling for the four-time MVP, but not yet. James added a poster dunk on Nemanja Bjelica that will play on repeat throughout the next 24 hours on every sports show.
Nothing for free
The Kings are used to a free-throw disparity, especially with point guard De’Aaron Fox sidelined. But Friday evening at Staples Center, the calls went one way and it was mostly Sacramento's fault.
Los Angeles sank 20 of 22 shots from the free throw line. The Lakers were the aggressor from the opening tip and they got the Kings’ starting lineup in foul trouble early.
Sacramento sat back and worked the perimeter. The Kings hit plenty of triples, but they only attempted nine free throws, seven of which came in the fourth quarter.
When times get tough, the Kings have to attack the rim and get to the line. That didn’t happen against the Lakers and it cost them the chance to pick up a road win.
Let it fly
With the Lakers protecting the paint, the Kings took advantage from behind the arc. In a big-time shooting performance, Sacramento converted 16 of 39 3-point attempts.
Buddy Hield led the way with six makes and was one of six Kings to hit one from deep.
Sacramento outscored LA 48-33 from long distance, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the free-throw disparity against James on his home court.