The night after an impressive blowout win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers headed north to take on the Sacramento Kings.
In a good old-fashioned shootout that was riveting from start to finish, the Lakers held up admirably and kept making big plays in order to come out on top versus a playoff-caliber Kings squad, 136-134.
Los Angeles had outstanding balance, as it had four players score at least 23 points while shooting a scorching 61.0 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.
The victory gives the Lakers a five-game winning streak and brings them to within two games of the .500 mark. They’re now just 1.5 games behind the sixth seed in the Western Conference, which is currently held by the Los Angeles Clippers.
LeBron James: A+
James showed no signs of fatigue on the second night of a back-to-back set. He played 38 minutes and scored 37 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Time and time again, he attacked the basket and took advantage of a Kings team that lacks shot-blocking. With 48.1 seconds left, he drove to the basket, scored and fouled out Domantas Sabonis, who hurt the Lakers in the paint with 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Juan Toscano-Anderson: B
Toscano-Anderson had four points, one rebound, one steal and one blocked shot in 18 minutes. His energy and effort defensively has been beneficial, but sooner or later the Lakers will need him to start consistently hitting open 3-pointers to space the floor for his teammates.
Thomas Bryant: A+
Other than James, Bryant was the MVP of this game.
He has been making a living by getting spoonfed easy baskets at or near the rim, and it led to him shooting 12-of-14 from the floor to score 29 points. He also hit some perimeter shots while grabbing 14 rebounds, and he had a couple of offensive rebounds in crunch time that helped lead to this win.
Patrick Beverley: B-
Beverley’s defense wasn’t too great tonight, as De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Huerter, Sacramento’s starting guards, both had big games, but he made 2-of-3 shots from the floor (all three shot attempts were 3-pointers) and finished with six points, one rebound and one assist.
Dennis Schroder: A+
Schroder has gotten hot lately just when the Lakers have needed him to. He was 8-of-11 overall, 4-of-5 from 3-point range and 7-of-7 from the free throw line on Saturday to finish with 27 points.
He made perhaps the two biggest plays of the night. First, he tipped away an inbounds pass with 22.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter, leading to a big Sacramento turnover. Then, he drove the basket and drew a foul with 3.6 seconds left, then hit two free throws to provide the final margin of victory.
Wenyen Gabriel: C+
Gabriel had six points and three rebounds in 13 minutes, but he had a lot of trouble guarding Sabonis in the paint. As a result, Gabriel was in foul trouble for much of the night, and he fouled out with 39.7 seconds left in the third period.
Russell Westbrook: A
Once again, Westbrook played an excellent and efficient all-around game, shooting 7-of-14 overall and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. His 23 points and 15 rebounds were a major factor in L.A.’s victory.
He just may be playing his way out of being traded, and he may even earn himself a new contract to stay with the Purple and Gold if things work out satisfactorily.
Kendrick Nunn: D
One night after his best game of the season, Nunn went back to being invisible. He got just 14 minutes of playing time and didn’t assert himself, taking just three shots and making one of them.
Max Christie: C+/B-
Christie was also something of a non-factor on Saturday after making a nice contribution on Friday. He went 1-of-2 and finished with two points and two rebounds in 24 minutes.
Sterling Brown: Incomplete
The Lakers’ newest addition got two minutes of playing time and didn’t make any contributions on the stat sheet, other than committing one foul.