Lakers’ paint is dry in loss to Kings

SACRAMENTO — Strange game for the Lakers. First one in a while.

Maybe they were tired from back-to-back games. Maybe they’ve got a weird issue about winning on the road.

Actually, there shouldn’t be any excuses. They lost to the lowly Sacramento Kings. Period.

PHOTOS: Lakers vs. Kings

The team that can barely hang on to its ZIP Code had no problem shipping out the Lakers on Wednesday, 113-97, at Sleep Train Arena.

“If we want to go ‘Showtime,’ they just closed the whole theater on us,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Somehow, the Lakers completely failed to take advantage down low against the smaller Kings.

Pau Gasol had eight points on three-for-10 shooting. Dwight Howard had seven points on four shots.

Howard said he couldn’t remember the last time he had so few attempts.

“There’s no explanation,” he said flatly. “We’ve got another game coming up, so there’s no need to go back to tonight’s game. We will do a better job at both ends. I will and the team will.”

Their most embarrassing stat of the night was points in the paint. The Lakers had 22, the Kings had 50.

“The ball didn’t move. Everybody wasn’t sharp,” D’Antoni said. “It was like we were wrestling in mud. I’m serious. The first half, I was in shock.”

The Lakers fell to 0-3 on the road. They have back-to-back games in Memphis and Dallas on Friday and Saturday. Good luck with that.

They couldn’t even beat the Kings, who came into the game with five consecutive losses, a 2-8 record and their worst start in more than 20 years. Their attendance was last in the league.

The local newspaper had a huge story Wednesday about frustrated fans having an “empty feeling” and “losing patience” with the Kings, who can’t nail down funding for a new arena. The previous day, the Sacramento Bee ran a story saying the team’s general manager, Geoff Petrie, needed to be fired because the franchise had hit rock bottom.

The Lakers (6-6) were the ones scraping the cement Wednesday, falling back down to .500 as quickly as they passed it Tuesday against Brooklyn.

They wasted another solid effort by Kobe Bryant, who had 38 points on 11-for-20 shooting. Jodie Meeks made three of six three-pointers and had 15 points, his most with the Lakers, and that was about all that was noteworthy for the visitors.

The Lakers trailed at halftime, 42-41, Howard scoring only two points on two shots. Bryant tried to take over in the third quarter, scoring 16 points, but the Lakers trailed by four going into the fourth.

They were within striking range until DeMarcus Cousins beat Gasol twice on drives near the two-minute mark. They faded badly from there.

Bryant’s thoughts?

“Pau had some good opportunities. He was a step slower tonight,” Bryant said. “Dwight, they just seemed to corral him every chance they got. They just sat on him all night.”

D’Antoni’s theory? The excitement has worn off. The honeymoon has ended.

“You always have a little bit of a shock when a guy comes in new so you start off like puppies out there,” he said. “Now, back to reality a little bit. We’ve got some things we’ve got to work through. We’ve got some issues.”

The Lakers’ bench was again a sore spot. Backup guard Marcus Thornton had 23 points for the Kings, outscoring the Lakers’ reserves on his own. They had 19 points, even with the 15 from Meeks.

As the Lakers dressed after the game, they were told that a fog warning was in place for the region, potentially delaying their flight.

It made plenty of sense. Their night was already cloudy and unclear.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan