Anthony Davis and Lakers bullied, beaten by Sacramento Kings, again

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, is defend by Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

Either it’s a hurdle or a wall. The Lakers couldn’t be sure.

Now they are.

The Sacramento Kings fully have the Lakers’ number, one team completely dominating the other in a series that’s been badly tilted away from Los Angeles over the last two seasons.

The Lakers’ 120-107 loss at Sacramento on Wednesday night exposed so many of the problems that have haunted them against the Kings, who have too much shooting. Too much speed. Too much toughness.

For the Lakers, too many questions without answers.

It didn’t matter that the Kings played Milwaukee on Tuesday night or that they were missing starting guard Kevin Huerter and key reserve Trey Lyles.

Anthony Davis, one of the NBA’s best players on both ends of the court and maybe the most important Laker, lost again to his counterpart in Domantas Sabonis, a player Davis has never beaten in 10 tries. Sabonis bullied Davis into the block, spun, elbowed him in the jaw and scored, the Kings center running back while Davis stayed on the court.

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It wouldn’t be the only time he knocked Davis down.

LeBron James, the benefactor of two days of rest, came out of the huddle on the next play and turned the ball over for the third time in the third quarter leading to an easy Kings fast break.

D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ red-hot guard, went cold as ice in Sacramento, who graciously didn’t play that song this time, as he missed his first seven shots before hitting a fourth-quarter three.

The Lakers cut the Kings’ lead to nine in the fourth, a glimmer of momentum. But Sacramento, like it has all season, easily broke the Lakers down and hit back-to-back threes, including one from Malik Monk off an offensive rebound. Harrison Barnes hit another second-chance three after Sabonis grabbed a rebound over Davis.

Only Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura gave the Lakers any offensive lift, Reaves scoring 28 points and Hachimura finishing with 20 on nine-for-11 shooting.

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James and Davis combined for 40 points, but they took 16 and 18 shots, respectively.

The Lakers (36-31) play another key game in their playoff race Saturday against the Golden State Warriors back in L.A.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.