There was hope heading into Wednesday’s game for the Lakers to reach the 10-10 record this season that had everyone so excited last year.
Sacramento has struggled tremendously and had won only four games this season before Wednesday. Instead, the Kings got the best of the Lakers with an uncharacteristic 31-point first quarter.
Here are five takeaways from the game.
1. The Lakers are getting a lot of transition opportunities. It’s part of the way they like to play. They have a point guard with a knack for rebounding and outlet passes. They want to play fast. “We ask for the opportunities,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “We got to the season; we said what can we be really good at? What are our strengths? And our youth and our ability to get out and run and having a point guard like Zo, transition basketball is what we wanted to do.”
2. The Lakers are wasting a lot of those transition opportunities. Walton sees it as a two-step process. First, learn how to get them. Then, learn how to stop turning the ball over so much. The Lakers committed 17 turnovers against the Kings, which led to 23 points. “It’s time to really start taking care of the ball in those situations. It’s about making a bounce pass instead of trying to make an alley-oop,” Walton said. “It’s about taking straight line to the rim until somebody stops you. There’s simple. It might not be flashy, it might not get on SportsCenter, but they’re effective ways of running a fast break. The tough part is we can talk about it and film it, but with the schedule in the NBA, it’s tough to really drill transition basketball in practice with games every other day.” A couple players echoed the sentiment after the game, which means it’s something they’ve heard before.
3. It was the first time this season the Kings had two players make at least 10 baskets. Willie Cauley-Stein and Zach Randolph, who apparently shoots three-pointers now, both scored 10 times. Cauley-Stein had a season-high 26 points, three points shy of his career high.
4. Perhaps worn out from the comeback they mounted against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, the Lakers struggled on defense. Sacramento made 55.3% of its shots throughout the game, including 15 of 19 in the fourth quarter. “We had the crowd behind us [last night], and tonight we let a team get hot on their home court, which is going to be difficult,” guard Lonzo Ball said.
5. Brook Lopez didn’t have a great game. He scored only four points on two-of-six shooting and missed both his three-point attempts. Lopez grabbed one rebound in 17 minutes of playing time. Walton said he might have gotten Lopez out of his rhythm by taking him out early in favor of Julius Randle.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli