Lakers pull away from Kings

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- A pivotal stretch in the third quarter allowed the Los Angeles Lakers to pull away from the Sacramento Kings.
Forward Xavier Henry came off the bench to score 21 points, guiding the Lakers to a 100-86 victory over the Kings before a sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center on Sunday.
Henry hit seven of his 11 shots from the floor in only 21 minutes of play.
"Just being aggressive," said Henry, who scored 14 of his points in the second half, 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter. "I haven't played as well these last few games, and I know I can score. I just came out and played the same game, but I was a little more aggressive."
Lakers center Pau Gasol scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half and grabbed 10 rebounds. Point guard Steve Blake added nine points and 12 assists. Guard Jodie Meeks had 14 points, while forward Jordan Hill added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
"Tough loss. We played hard, but unfortunately we didn't get the win," said Sacramento point guard Greivis Vazquez, who led his team with 20 points on nine of his 18 shooting and had seven assists.
Center DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Rookie guard Ben McLemore finished with 15 points.
The Lakers (7-7) won their third in a row -- a first this season -- and sent the Kings (4-9) reeling to their second loss in as many days and their fourth in the last six games.
The Lakers led by as much as 13 in the first half before settling for a 55-48 lead at the half. But the Kings' ineffective offense cost them in the second half as the Lakers buried them.
Henry played a big role, scoring in double figures for the first time since he finished with 15 against the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 12.
"Guys have been playing well and I haven't been playing," Henry said. "I try hard in each and every game. You're going to always have ups and downs. You're not always going to score 20 points, but as long as you affect the game in other ways, which I think I've done, with steals and defensive intensity and just making sure I play hard every night, I'm alright."
That defensive intensity helped the Lakers force Sacramento to manage just 25 percent shooting (5-for-20) in the third quarter compared to 40.9 percent (9-for-22) for the Lakers. Though the Lakers didn't dominate offensively in the quarter, they took advantage of a poor stretch by Sacramento.
The Kings closed to within 63-61 with 4:33 left in the third after a layup by forward Luc Mbah a Moute, but failed to score again for the rest of the quarter. The Lakers closed with a 10-0 spurt for a 73-61 advantage heading into the fourth.
"That was the game right there," Vazquez said. "I thought in the third quarter we played good basketball. We put it down to two, but we had a couple of turnovers that really gave them momentum."
Lakers forward Wesley Johnson agreed.
"We took off from there. Just staying consistent with what we were doing was the key," Lakers forward Wesley Johnson said. "We knew they were going to make a run, but we stayed with our guns. We got into a nice little run and opened the game up."
Los Angeles maintained its distance in the fourth quarter as Sacramento never made a run dent in its double-digit lead.
The Kings, who dropped a 102-101 decision to the Clippers on Saturday, have lost 10 of their last 11 games at Staples.
NOTES: Kings C DeMarcus Cousins was the only NBA player to lead a club in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks entering the game, averaging 21.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.75 steals and 1.25 blocks. ... Lakers PF Chris Kaman missed his second consecutive game with a sore back. ... Sacramento PG Isaiah Thomas, the league leader in points off the bench at 18.7 points per game, had his string of 12 straight double-digit scoring performances end. Thomas scored nine points Sunday. ... The Lakers recalled reserve PF Elias Harris and SF Ryan Kelly from the D-League on Saturday. ... The Lakers embark on a three-game road trip at Washington on Tuesday, Brooklyn on Wednesday and Detroit on Friday. ... After four days off, the Kings begin a four-game homestand Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers. They host the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 1, the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 3 and the Lakers on Dec. 6.

What to Read Next