Lakers beat Sacramento for third win in last four games

Lakers center Marc Gasol looks to make a pass as he is defended by Kings forward Harrison Barnes.
Lakers center Marc Gasol looks to make a pass after grabbing a rebound against Kings forward Harrison Barnes on Friday night in Sacramento.
(Hector Amezcua / Associated Press)

The plan was for Marc Gasol to stay ready; the Lakers were going to eventually need him. Eventually, it turned out, was a much shorter time than planned.

After recent free-agent acquisition Andre Drummond lost a toenail in his debut on Wednesday, Gasol had to quickly get warm and play in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ loss to Milwaukee.

“That’s hard to do, to sit there for three quarters without getting in,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before the game against Sacramento on Friday. “And then take your warmups, get loose and get in there and play as well as he did. That’s extremely hard to do, so just a credit to his professionalism and what kind of player he is.”


With Drummond still out, Gasol started against the Kings, making two of four shots in the Lakers’ 115-94 win. Gasol finished with five points, nine rebounds and six assists Friday in Sacramento.

Even when the Lakers get Drummond back, which could be an any-day-now type of thing, Vogel said that it’s not like Gasol will be totally absent from the rotation.

“He’s one of our better players. So we’re not going to have a mindset that he’s definitely not going to get in there. If we need him to play, we’re going to throw him in there,” Vogel said. “He’s got a skill set whether it’s pulling a Rudy Gobert away from the basket, or needing more size at the rim defensively, we’ll use him. And I do intend to look at him playing alongside Trezz [Montrezl Harrell].

“So I don’t really see this as a situation where he’s gonna fall out of the rotation long-term. He knows that, and even if there’s nights where he might not play, he’s gonna stay ready like he did the other night.”

Royal rims


You have to squint into the past to make it out, but there was a time when the Lakers were a dangerous team from deep this season. In their first 16 games this season, the Lakers made at least 14 three-pointers seven times.

In between then and now, they’ve been the NBA’s best masons (apologies to the Plumlee in Detroit), sinking to the bottom of the league’s three-point shooting rankings.

But against the Kings, the Lakers got hot and stayed there, hitting 15 three-pointers in the first three quarters as they built a double-digit lead. Since those first 16 games, it’s only the third time the Lakers made 14 or more in one night.

Seven Lakers made triples in the win, the team’s third in its last four games. Kyle Kuzma made four of seven three-pointers on the way to 30 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Matthews hurts neck

Shooting guard Wesley Matthews was on the court in Sacramento, his forehead glued to the floor with his hand on the back of his neck.


Highlights from the Lakers’ 115-94 victory over the Kings on Friday night in Sacramento.

One game after suffering a neck injury, Matthews was cleared to compete Friday against the Kings, but at the end of the first quarter, he landed awkwardly after a drive to the rim, sliding on his back, head-first, toward the basket stanchion.

His head folded up when he hit the padded base, aggravating the sore neck and forcing him to roll onto his stomach, where he stayed until Dennis Schroder helped him to the locker room.

Matthews didn’t return to the game with a neck strain, the Lakers saying that X-rays were negative.

Life in the seats

Both Vogel and Luke Walton know the difference between having fans at NBA games and not — their teams were among the 10 left unable to have some members of the paying public attending their games.


Local pro teams and arenas prepare for the return of fans at games with the state relaxing restrictions amid declining COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.

April 2, 2021

And both were excited that they’d soon see their own fans in their own arenas after new guidelines from the state were issued Friday.

“When there’s no fans, they’re trying to pump the energy and the noise in there, which that helps, but the arenas that have fans in there, you can feel the difference,” Walton said. “You feel that momentum when the other team is on a run. You feel ... there’s life in the building. There’s an advantage to that.”