SACRAMENTO — The moment Domantas fouled Sabonis with 48 seconds left, the Kings found themselves in trouble.
LeBron James had just ridden through the 26-year-old big man and two-time All-Star for a finish at the rim, while also making it seem like the 6-foot-11 Sabonis was barely there but pulling also one and one.
Sacramento coach Mike Brown consulted with the officials on midcourt, but ultimately Sabonis checked out for the last time, finishing with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists and 48 seconds left.
The Kings can’t win without their big star, but the Lakers definitely can.
That was the issue again for the Lakers (19-21), who are now one of the hottest teams in the NBA despite not having Anthony Davis. They survived another clash with the Sacramento Kings, a team they’d already beaten twice, 136-134, to continue a five-game winning streak that doesn’t seem to matter who’s on the lineup.
De’Aaron Fox gave them a scare, the last two of his 34 points coming on a turnaround jumper at the free-throw line to equalize with 6.8 seconds left. But Fox then got it wrong when Dennis Schröder drove in from the cross, a leg getting in the way of the German and putting him on the line with two free throws by 2.2s to win the game.
Brown questioned that call, but could hardly complain about acting on a night the Kings got 37 free throws. The Lakers took 33 themselves in a smart game.
But balance was crucial for the Lakers: James led again with 37 points, as well as 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
But James was joined by three other scorers with more than 20 points: Schroeder with 27, Thomas Bryant with 29, and Russell Westbrook, who also had a season-high with 15 assists and his 23 points.
In a game that was tied at halftime and after three quarters and rarely featured a defense, the Lakers pulled it out with surges that saw the top four scorers play big hands to stem the momentum.
The Kings are only the second opponent with a winning record to fall below the Lakers during the winning streak, but the odds are good. The Lakers played another game without four key rotation players: Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker IV, Austin Reaves and Troy Brown Jr.
And yet the Lakers are playing some of their best basketball games of the season. No two players exemplify the rise of role players like Schroeder and Bryant.
Three nights into a high-scoring season, Schröder started hot, hitting his first four three-pointers and already scoring 23 points in his first eight attempts.
Bryant, the Lakers’ former second-round pick in his second stint, hit a season-high – finishing in double digits for the 11th time in his last 13 games (since Davis was injured). He didn’t get the post-up touches that Ham joked on Friday he would try to find for him, but the big man had no trouble hitting the bottom of the net on pull-up jumpers, transition finishes and to find big putback dunks.
He had one of his biggest baskets three minutes from time – but it was no bigger than the rebound he grabbed on a Sabonis putback attempt in the final two minutes that stopped the Kings from taking the lead.
It was the Lakers’ first five-game winning streak since the 2020-21 season. They’re going to play the Denver Nuggets on the streets on Monday.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/07/lakers-edge-sacramento-kings-on-road-for-fifth-straight-win/ Lakers beat Kings on road to fifth straight win – Orange County Register