For most of the night, the Lakers looked completely outmatched by the Sacramento Kings. A furious rally, led by the team's young prospects, gave the Lakers a chance in the final minute, only to fall short in a 118-115 defeat at Sacramento.
The Kings quickly jumped to a 21-point lead in the first quarter, increasing it to 24 in the second and 27 in the third. But All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins picked up an early fifth foul and the Lakers suddenly found their footing.
Sacramento's 90-63 lead with 6:14 left in the third quarter completely evaporated over the next 10 minutes. The Lakers took a 109-108 lead on Jordan Clarkson's running jumper with 3:49 left in the fourth.
Kobe Bryant, playing his final NBA game in Sacramento, tried to keep the Lakers afloat early, scoring 28 points, but it was the lineup of D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Anthony Brown, Brandon Bass and Clarkson that brought the Lakers all the way back.
Russell scored a career-high 27 points before suffering what looked like a right ankle sprain. After trying to play through the injury, he left for the final 1:46.
Clarkson's jumper gave the Lakers a two-point advantage with 1:34 left, but after a Cousins free throw, Clarkson's shot right at the basket bounced out.
Veteran Rajon Rondo put the Kings back on top with a floating jumper. Clarkson turned the ball over and Sacramento held on to win.
Cousins finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Rudy Gay and Quincy Acy added 18 points, Ben McLemore 16, Kosta Koufos 14 and Marco Belinelli 11. Cousins also seemed to sprain an ankle in the final seconds.
The Lakers got 20 points from Lou Williams, 15 from Clarkson and 10 from Brandon Bass. Randle led the Lakers with 10 rebounds, while scoring six points with five turnovers.
As a team, the Lakers shot 54.7% from the field, 33.3% from behind the arc (8 of 24) and 86.2% from the free-throw line (25 of 29).
Sacramento shot 55.3%, 28.6% (6 of 21) and 66.7% (18 of 27), respectively.
The Lakers (8-29) play again on Friday, hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder (25-11) at Staples Center. The Kings (15-21) next host the Golden State Warriors (33-2) on Saturday.