Confident Lakers continue rebound against struggling Kings


November 24, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, United States; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) and Los Angeles Lakers guard Malik Monk (11) celebrate a second half basket against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams fairly familiar with each other end their four-game streak Wednesday night when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Sacramento Kings.

The Lakers rebounded from a three-overtime home loss to the Kings in November to claim back-to-back series wins, including 117-92 in the clubs last meeting in Sacramento on November 30. Anthony Davis (25 points) and Russell Westbrook (23) led the way in that one while LeBron James was absent (COVID protocol).

Davis was out with a sprained left knee when the clubs reconvened in Los Angeles last week, but James was back and contributed 31 points to a hotly contested 122-114 Lakers victory.

It was the third victory in a four-game winning streak for the Lakers that ended Sunday night in a 127-119 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

James has continued his brilliant game of late with 35 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the loss. He’s averaged 34.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists in his last 11 games.

Most important, James noted, is that the Lakers have played some of their best basketball of the season in the last five games.

“I know what I bring to the table every night. I know what I’m capable of doing every night, ”said James. “But I want that to translate into wins, and that has always been my mindset in this league.”

The Lakers’ four wins since Dec.31 equal the Kings total since Dec.19, a 13-game streak in which Sacramento has lost five in a row.

The skid came to end on Monday night at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but after a late 9-0 flurry, the Kings moved closer, De’Aaron Fox was unable to connect to a 15-foot buzzer and Sacramento came in short 109-108.

“If you tell me I could get a shot from De’Aaron Fox on the free throw line to win the game, I’ll take it,” Kings caretaker coach Alvin Gentry said after the loss. “If we play this way night after night, we will change the direction of our team. “

Guards Tyrese Haliburton (21 points) and Buddy Hield (five to 3 points, 19 points) helped keep the Kings in the game as they struggled through a night in which big men Richaun Holmes and Damian Jones were in COVID protocol and Tristan Thompson was with a painful right quad.

Rookie Neemias Queta took the opportunity to record his first NBA points in his fourth career game, finishing with 11 plus five rebounds, a season record, in 24 minutes, a season record.

The big numbers came less than a month after Queta became the first Portuguese player to appear in an NBA game.

While the contest could see James and Queta in an unusual crossover clash, it will also pit two of the league’s most prominent 3-point shooters – the Lakers ‘Kings’ Hield and Malik Monk.

Hield has gained ground over Stephen Curry in the competition for the most 3 points in the NBA this season with 25 this month, more than double the number of the Golden State star (12). He’s gone 25 of 55 (45.5%) in his last six games.

Meanwhile, Monk has been even more specific (51.4%) logging in on 18 of 35 in his last four outings.

–Field level media

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