LakeShow Takes: Lakers give LeBron present on his 34th birthday

Author:
Publish date:

Twenty-two LakeShow Takes on the Los Angeles Lakers' 121-114 come-from-behind win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at Staples Center...

1.LeBron James celebrated his 34th birthday from the bench, but watched his teammates rally for their first win in three games without the three-time NBA Most Valuable Player.

2. The victory also snapped a streak of 13 consecutive games James' team prevailed in which he did not play, dating back to his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

3. James' team last won a game in which he did not play March 16, 2016, when the Cavaliers defeated the Dallas Mavericks.

4. With James, out with a strained left groin and Rajon Rondo (finger surgery) not available, the Lakers' young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart stepped up, rallying from an 11-point deficit for the victory.

5. Kuzma said the performances without starters James and Rondo was indicative of the potential he and his fellow young guns possess.

6. "Just that we can do more as a young core and as a team," Kuzma said. "We are not just one player, we just got to eliminate little mistakes and we could have won all three games [without them]. For us, it is just continue to keep getting better and better and when those guys get back, hit the ground running."

7. Ingram was a difference maker against the much-improved Kings. He had 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and added seven rebounds, nine assists and two blocked shots.

8. "I think it's the most comfortable I've felt for sure," Ingram said. "Just me playing the game the right way, looking for guys, seeing guys."

9. He had plenty of help, though. Kuzma had 18 points, nine board and six dimes, Hart posted 22 points and seven rebounds, Hart contributed 22 points, 7 rebounds, three assists and two steals and Ball had 13 points, two boards and six assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tied for game-high honors with De'Aaron Fox of the Kings (19-17) with 26 points, 19 of which came in the second half.

10. “(Lakers coach Luke Walton) wants me to shoot more and that’s what I did tonight," Caldwell Pope said. "It felt good to get a rhythm.”

11. "We just continue to show growth each and every game in tight situations that we are in," Ingram added. "There's added emphasis every single night that we step on the floor of passing the ball and getting the best shot for our team. I don't think we [Kuzma and Ingram] always do it because we naturally want to score the basketball. But I think it was definitely the best way to play tonight."

12. Hart stepped to the fore early for the Lakers, scoring 17 of his 22 points in the first half on 6-of-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.

13. Ingram said he enjoyed handling more of the playmaking duties, which are a necessity with James sidelined.

14. "I just think I did a better job of getting my teammates involved,” Ingram said. “I know when they feel comfortable on the basketball floor, it gives us a better chance to win at the end of the game. I think they’re ready to take the shots. They down and ready and they feel comfortable behind the three, getting into the lane and that’s what we saw from Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kuz is always going to score the basketball.”

15. JaVale McGee made his return after missing seven games because of a bout with pneumonia and had an effect, scoring eight points and adding 12 rebounds in 24 minutes in the first game since Dec. 15 for the 11-year veteran.

16. Three nights previous, Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Kings beat the Lakers on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the circle for a 117-116 triumph. LA made sure that didn't happen Sunday night, thanks to a 7-0 fourth-quarter run by Ingram, taking their first lead of the final period at 113-110 with 2:13 to play on a deep ball by Ingram.

17. However, Walton said the difference in this game and the one three nights ago was at the other end of the floor.

18. “We finally started giving the type of effort we need to get stops,” he said. "They had some open looks not go down for them. We got bailed out on a couple of those. I thought our defensive intensity finally [showed up]. We didn’t have it in the first three quarters tonight.”

19. As for James, now in his 16the NBA season, Walton didn't have much information on his progress on the strained groin, suffered in the third quarter of a win at Golden State on Christmas Day.

20. “I don’t know what the daily routine in the training room is right now, but he’s not on the floor, no,” Walton said at shootaround earlier.

21. Walton said no timetable for James making a return has been discussed. The Lakers (21-16) host the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first game of the 2019 portion of the schedule Wednesday night at Staples Center.

22. "I really haven'y gotten that far," Walton said.