LOS ANGELES—December 3, 2010: The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings 113-80 at the STAPLES Center to snap a four-game losing streak. Lakers would also earn their eighth straight win against the Kings.
Lakers came out for tonight’s game with a trickle of urgency, as they were looking to end their four-game skid, the team’s first in over three and a half years (April 2007).
Fortunately, Sacramento was the perfect opponent to get back on track. The Kings can certainly empathize with losing streaks—Sacramento has lost 11 of their last 12 games before tonight’s contest.
Make that 12 of 13 with partial credit to Kobe Bryant’s game-high 22 points off 9-of-18 from the field.
Lakers center Pau Gasol was listed as day-to-day after straining his left hamstring, which caused him to leave during the third quarter of the loss to Houston on Wednesday night before returning in the fourth. With his hamstring swathed by a blue sleeve as he was on the floor for warm-ups, his presence in regulation would be a game time decision. He gave his team the thumbs up prior to tip-off and tallied 16 points off 6-for-8 shooting, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks in 27 minutes.
“I thought he looked OK,” said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson regarding Gasol’s performance with his tender hamstring. “He played within the framework of what we were trying to do.”
The Lakers’ coaching staff applauded the team’s defensive execution—smooth defensive rotations, timely help defense, solid screen and roll defense, and their heightened energy hounding the offense—all missing ingredients in their four-game losing streak. Their efforts produced 8 blocks and 10 steals.
Another byproduct of their defense was a more fluid offense, as the Lakers shot 57 percent from the field. Prior to the losing streak, Los Angeles was scoring close to 112 points per game, but they have been unable to crack the century mark the past five games until tonight.
“We played strong tonight on the defensive end and offensively,” said Lakers forward Lamar Odom.
Lakers set the tone early with their defensive intensity, perfectly illustrated by a couple of swats from Odom in the first quarter.
“We came out focused,” said Gasol. “We were aggressive from the first minute.”
In the second quarter, a catchable Francisco Garcia pass for what could’ve been a possible lay-in slipped out of center Samuel Dalembert’s hands. It was a microcosm of Sacramento’s evening riddled with turnovers—21 compared to the Lakers’ 11.
Lakers commandeered control of the game by the second quarter, leading by as many as 18 points. They went into halftime satisfied by the comfort of a 52-35 advantage.
Los Angeles would balloon their lead to as high as 35 points in the fourth quarter, as the second unit for the Lakers upheld the large lead with help from Shannon Brown’s 14 points off the bench.
Lamar Odom contributed 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks to the win. Rookie Derrick Caracter manned the middle as Gasol rested, and finished with 10 points.
Jason Thompson earned a double double for the Kings with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Tyreke Evans chipped in with 15 points.
The Lakers’ next contest will be on Tuesday, as they host the Washington Wizards. Game time begins at 7:30 p.m. PT.