In the last 10 games, the Lakers committed the sixth worst offense in the NBA and shot 33.8% from depth, the fifth worst percentage in the league. So to say that they are due to some upward regression is an understatement, but even with that in mind, their explosion from a distance against the Sacramento Kings was almost unbelievable.
The Lakers hit 17 three-pointers on Friday, shooting an incredible 51.5% of the arc to beat the Kings in a 115-94 victory. This is the second best percentage they have shot from deep this season, and the third highest number of threes they have made in a single game.
Almost everyone shot well in this one, but the leader was Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers starter burned kings all over the floor, sinking, hitting hooks, and gliding in confident jumpers all night. Apparently, the presence of Luke Walton in the building is something like a PED for Kuzma, who set fire to his former coach̵
His previous season? 25 … Against these same Kings. There may be something in this theory.
Kentavid Caldwell-Papa also deserves special mention. The starting guard of the team has noticed many shortcomings for his shooting and hesitation to release this season, but tonight was the return of Bubble KCP. Caldwell-Pope flew up and down the court in transition, running confidently to the corners, catching threes instead of reluctantly taking them, a predator feeding on the fleshy gaps in the kings’ sad defense. He finished the night with 13 points while shooting 4-7 from depth, and was far more influential than his statin showed with his activity.
With this win, the Lakers are now 31-18 in the season, still holding on to fourth place in the Western Conference, despite their recent slide without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Hot shooting or not, this team keeps fighting and that’s all anyone can ask of them during this stretch. It was quite a manifestation of mental toughness and the team deserves to be appreciated for their efforts, even if it is not always beautiful without the two stars they revolve around.
They will now head back to Los Angeles for the second game of this seven-game trip, playing the Clippers at the Staples Center on Sunday. The team will get a break on Saturday, a much-needed break as Andre Drummond (thumb), Wesley Matthews (who left the game on Friday with a neck injury) and the rest of the team continue to recover.
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