After weeks of construction, the Lakers’ opponents aren’t just shouting out the quiet part — they’re blasting it from the rafters.
When Russell Westbrook missed a shot Wednesday night at the Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings’ game executive was quick to snap: They played a clip of the Secretary of State’s “Cold As Ice” mocking him he. And throughout the night, Westbrook gave them plenty of reasons to replay the clip.
Westbrook wasn’t the only Laker to have struggled in the 125-116 loss to the Kings, but he revisited the game’s final meaningful shot – an open look at the 3-pointer – and missed it with 1:07 left margin at four points. It was the last of his 12 misses, an undeniably low point for Westbrook, who had missed for weeks.
However, there was much to blame as the Lakers (21-21) dropped to the .500 mark: Their defense failed to stop the Kings’ tenacious attack and let them go into the box. Sacramento shot 55% better overall, led by De’Aaron Fox by 29 points, and the Kings scored a staggering 70 points in the paint.
“Our defense let us down for the second straight game,” said coach Frank Vogel.
Even LeBron James, who led the scoring effort with 34 points, has fouling problems: He’s just 13th for 29 from the field, including 3-12 from 3-pointers. The Lakers’ best individual highlights were Malik Monk, who hit six 3-pointers on the way to 22, and Austin Reaves, who had a career-best 19.
All three were a factor as the Lakers cut their late deficit from 13 points to two when it was just 1:36. Reaves took a hit, then the Lakers did something they couldn’t do all night: defensive postseason. Monk blocked a shot that resulted in a deadly hit from James, then James earned a hit that resulted in a monk miss. The perfect elements for a comeback seemed to lie ahead as James parried Harrison Barnes’ miss (23 points) and sent it across the coast for a lightning performance.
Fox braked the rally with a lane jump seconds later. Westbrook then opened up with just over a minute left, but his fifth 3-point effort was as successful as all others. Chemezie Metu (14 points) closed the victory with 3 points after Sacramento knocked out the ring.
Arguably, Q4 wasn’t even the half that gave the Lakers a chance to take the top of the season over the King. They were down 40-23 in the third half – a reminder of some of their early-season struggles at half-time.
For long periods in the first half, the Lakers looked pretty well in control. That sense of confidence peaked in the second quarter, when Monk (who made his first four hits) hit a 3-step-back pointer and found Dwight Howard shortly after for rest reasons. . With the second half remaining 2:19, James made a 3-pointer to bring the Lakers to 14 points.
But the Lakers were unable to maintain that margin before the break. The Kings scored eight straight points to close the inning, with the final four going to Fox, whose fleet footwork kept the Lakers’ defense solid all evening. Sacramento added six unanswered points to start the third inning, taking control of the game.
Westbrook had 12 rebounds and 6 assists on just one rotation but the slump in form couldn’t be ignored. At the end of the third inning, he went ahead early in the clock to make a missed 3-pointer, then overturned – mistakes that led to Sacramento’s five points.
The Lakers have two days before their next game, against defending MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in Denver.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/01/12/lakers-lose-to-kings-as-russell-westbrooks-slump-continues/ Lakers lose to Kings as Russell Westbrook’s slump continues – Orange County Register