Lakers lose to scrappy Kings with no LeBron James

Buddy Hield leads Sacramento with game-high 29 points
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Playing without LeBron James for the first time this season, the Los Angeles Lakers went into the All-Star break on a down note, falling the Sacramento Kings on the road 123-120 on Wednesday.

James did not travel with the rest of the team to Sacramento Tuesday evening as he nurses a sore left ankle back in Los Angeles. However, James does plan on participating in this weekend’s All-Star festivities in Atlanta.

Along with James, Alex Caruso (neck spasms), Anthony Davis (right calf strain) and Marc Gasol (health and safety protocol) did not play for Los Angeles.

Damion Jones, Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dennis Schröder starting for the short-handed Lakers.

Kuzma, Schröder and Montrezl Harrell led the way with go-to guys in James and Davis out. Kuzma totaled 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Schröder finished with 28 points and nine assists while Harrell added 26 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

However, the Lakers had no answer for Sacramento's Buddy Hield, who finished with 29 points, including 7-of-11 from the 3-point line. 

The Lakers had a shot to tie the game with 1.3 seconds left, but Kuzma's 3-point attempt from deep clanked off the front of the rim. 

The Kings improved to 14-21 overall with the win. The Lakers dropped to 24-13 on the season heading into the All-Star break. 

Top player: Seldom-used Alfonzo McKinnie made the most of his playing time, finishing with 11 points and two rebounds in 16 minutes, including a impressive, put-back dunk in the fourth quarter.

What I liked: The Lakers held a 46-21 advantage in bench scoring.

What I didn’t like: The Lakers had just 26 assists on 49 fields goals.

Injuries: Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said Caruso was a game-time decision. However, Caruso was held out against Sacramento after leaving the second half of Tuesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns with neck spasms. Harrell got hit with an elbow by Sacramento’s Richaun Holmes on a drive to the basket and had to be attended to by trainers but stayed in the game.

They said it: “He's a good player. And he's sort of buried with our depth here, but he's maintained a great attitude. He's been a true pro, coming in and getting his work in everyday. ... We've been looking for an opportunity to get him in there without supplanting one of the rotational guys, and tonight was the night. So, it was a good opportunity for him and I thought he played really well.” – Lakers head coach Frank Vogel on the play of McKinnie.