A Wesley Johnson tip-in with a minute left cut the Lakers' double-digit deficit to three points, 105-102. The Lakers got a vital stop, but Kent Bazemore missed an driving layup that stalled the Lakers’ comeback.
Now with a record of 25-50, the Laker's loss was an important one in the NBA draft lottery standings, as the seventh-worst Kings improved to 27-48, two wins ahead of the Lakers, who have seven left to play.
The Sacramento victory should lock the Lakers into no lower than the sixth position in the lottery.
Sacramento also got a double-double from DeMarcus Cousins with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ben McLemore scored 12 and Travis Outlaw 11. Jason Thompson grabbed 11 rebounds while scoring just two points off the bench.
The Lakers shot 38.5% from the field but 12 three-pointers on 28 attempts (42.9%) helped the team stay close. Sacramento shot 48.8% from the field, making five from behind the arc in 15 tries (33.3%).
Nick Young converted his seventh four-point play of the season, adding to his Lakers' franchise record.
The Lakers return home to host the Dallas Mavericks (44-31) on Friday. The Kings visit the Golden State Warriors (46-29), also on Friday.
Kings 87, Lakers 76 (end of third quarter)
Ray McCallum has 24 points and five assists, helping the Kings push ahead by 11 points to enter the fourth quarter.
Rudy Gay was right behind him with 22 for Sacramento, which is shooting 51.4% from the field against the depleted Lakers, playing short-handed on the second night of back-to-back games.
Jodie Meeks leads the Lakers with 16 points. Kent Bazemore has 14 and Jordan Hill 12 (along with 12 rebounds).
Nick Young has contributed 12 points off the bench for the Lakers, who are shooting only 38.6% from the field.
Kings 60, Lakers 52 (halftime)
The Kings pulled ahead by as many as 12 points in the second quarter before the Lakers closed the gap to eight by halftime.
Ray McCallum has been a force offensively, with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting and four assists, for Sacramento, which is shooting 53.2% from the field. Rudy Gay has 15 points and Ben McLemore 12 for the Kings.
The Lakers have been led by Jodie Meeks, who has 11 points. Nick Young has contributed 10 points off the bench, although he's made only three of 10 shots from the field. His three baskets were from long range, including his seventh four-point play of the season, adding to his Lakers' record.
In addition to struggling from the field, shooting only 35.4%, the Lakers haven't been defending especially well but they stayed relatively close with 11 free throws in 15 attempts, compared to the Kings' five of nine.
The Lakers also made seven three-pointers in 16 tries, while Sacramento is five of nine from long range.
Kings 24, Lakers 23 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers are playing short-handed tonight, with Chris Kaman (calf) and Xavier Henry (knee) joining Pau Gasol (vertigo), Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Nash (ankle, back) and Jordan Farmar (groin) on the injured list.
Despite the injuries, the Lakers have been competitive in the first quarter in Sacramento.
Sacramento leads by a point after 12 minutes after DeMarcus Cousins scored eight points. Ray McCallum, starting for the injured Isaiah Thomas (quad) at point guard, has six points and two assists for the Kings, who are shooting 38.5% from the field.
The Lakers are being led by Jodie Meeks with eight points. Kent Bazemore and reserve center Robert Sacre each have five points for the Lakers, who are shooting 38.1% from the field.
Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly started in place of Gasol and Kaman. Both teams combined for only three turnovers in the first quarter.
The Lakers (25-49) visit the Sacramento Kings (26-48) on Wednesday night, in a game that could determine who has higher position heading into the NBA draft lottery on May 20.
Chris Kaman is a game-time decision and Pau Gasol will sit out with a severe recurrence of vertigo that knocked out for over a week. Steve Nash (ankle, nerve root irritation), Kobe Bryant (knee) and Jordan Farmar (groin) are also out.
Sacramento point guard Isaiah Thomas has been recently sidelined with a quad injury.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Sacramento Kings