Could the Lakers have beaten the Kings more impressively, more decisively and more efficiently?
Sure. Sacramento scored too easily for much of the game and, at one point of the fourth quarter, cut what had been a 19-point lead down to four.
But here’s my question: So what?
Playing their third game in four nights, the Lakers responded immediately to that four-point margin by locking down defensively to produce a 6-0 offensive run, then coasted to the 118-108 final margin, good enough to solidify the league’s best record at 11-1 (Boston’s 13-2). While this is by no means an apology for a defense that allowed 53.4 percent shooting to a Kings team missing its best shooter – a game from which L.A.’s coaches will surely find many missed defensive assignments – it was still a very easy win. That’s a good thing. In other words, there’s really no reason to believe that the Lakers will take the next sub-.500 opponent (New Jersey on Tuesday) lightly, just because they allowed the Kings too many open looks and were at times careless with the ball (18 turnovers resulting in 30 Sacramento points).
In the locker room after the game, at least a few questions directed at Lakers players wondered out loud if the team had anything to worry about by allowing so many easy shots to an at times hapless Kings bunch. The answer is … no. Let’s just nip that in the bud right now – any such conclusion simply needs to be dismissed (did that sound defensive? My bad).
Frankly, it seems to me that L.A. dominated the Kings, and Sacramento – at no fault of its energetic effort – didn’t come very close, even if the score tightened for a fourth quarter moment.
And with that, a few numbers:
Lakers in double-figures: Kobe Bryant (24); Pau Gasol (16); Andrew Bynum (15); Lamar Odom (14); Vladimir Radmanovic (12); Trevor Ariza (11); Derek Fisher (10) and Jordan Farmar (10). Only Sasha Vujacic got minutes (18) and failed to score 10 (he had six).
Combined rebounds off the bench from Odom (seven) and Ariza (11), helping L.A. control the boards 46 to 36 for the evening.
Three-point percentage for the Kings on 4-of-20, including 0-for-3s from Brad Miller, Donte Greene and Bobby Jackson.
Three-point percentage as a team for L.A. on 8-of-14, including 4-of-5 from Vladi and 2-of-2 from Vujacic.
71.4: Free throw percentage for the Lakers (20-of-28), as Sacramento went to the line just 13 times (making 10).