Five takeaways from the Lakers' victory over the Sacramento Kings

Five takeaways from the Lakers' victory over the Sacramento Kings
Kobe Bryant looks to shoot as Sacramento guard Ben McLemore defends during the Lakers' 98-95 win over the Kings at Staples Center on Dec 9. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Lakers (6-16) ended their three-game slide with a tight win over the Sacramento Kings (11-11). Here are five takeaways from their 98-95 victory on Tuesday at Staples Center.

1. Coach Byron Scott turned to Kobe Bryant to play point guard for most of the Lakers' late-fourth-quarter run.  Bryant, who typically looks to shoot first, made a pointed effort to look for his teammates, dishing key assists to Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill. Wayne Ellington did his best to deal with Darren Collison (26 points), doing slightly better than the other Lakers who tried to stick with the former Clipper. Scott said he'll go with Bryant at the one again if that is what he feels is most effective.

2. Why did the Lakers win? Kings Coach Mike Malone said the Kings, "lost the game for two reasons -- 21 second-chance points by the Lakers and 13 missed free throws. I thought in the fourth quarter, we wanted the ball -- they had to have it, big difference.  I thought they out-physicalled us, pushed us away, and had a great sense of desperation almost, if you will, to come up with those rebounds and put-backs."

The Lakers had 14 offensive rebounds to the Kings' nine.  The Kings shot 24-37 from the free-throw line (64.9%).

3. Though the Lakers have many flaws, they don't turn the ball over often. On Tuesday, they had a season-low five miscues.  They came into the game as the overall fifth-best team at an average of 12 turnovers a game. Sacramento had 16 as six Lakers finished with at least one steal (while three had two apiece).

4. The Lakers improved to 6-16, now even with the Utah Jazz, but 5 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Phoenix Suns (12-11).  To make the playoffs, the Lakers would also need to overtake the New Orleans Pelicans, the Denver Nuggets, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Kings.

5. Bryant is now just 30 points away from tying Michael Jordan on the all-time NBA scoring list. Jordan finished his career at 32,292 and Bryant is a game or two away from overtaking the Hall of Famer for third place. Karl Malone is second at 36,928 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still on top at 38,387. Bryant is averaging 25.5 points a game this season, which suggests that he'll pass the milestone on Sunday, visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, it could happen a bit sooner: A 30-point night in San Antonio, against the Spurs, is not out of the question.

Bonus item: The Lakers did not sell out at home for the first time this season, with 18,267 attending the game -- 730 shy of Staples Center's capacity for Lakers games.

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