SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) An anonymous rookie several weeks ago, Ray McCallum is making opponents take note of his game.
Rudy Gay scored nine of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and McCallum had a career-high 27 points to help the Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-102 on Wednesday night.
McCallum, the 36th overall pick in the 2013 draft, spent the majority of his rookie season with little court time, other than some strong performances in the D-League.
But McCallum, who has started the last five games due to the deep quadriceps injury to Isaiah Thomas, has played like a savvy veteran point guard of late. Against the Lakers, McCallum made 12 of 22 shots and added five assists and four rebounds in 46 minutes.
With McCallum directing the offense, the Kings only committed eight turnovers, three by the poised rookie.
”Every time I think he can’t get any better he finds a way to prove me wrong,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. ”The biggest thing that impresses me isn’t his scoring or his assists. It’s his demeanor, his composure, and his poise.”
McCallum had 22 points and 10 assists Monday in a victory at New Orleans.
”Sometimes in this league the opportunity only comes once,” said McCallum, who played three seasons at the University of Detroit where he was coached by his father, Ray McCallum Sr. ”I’m trying to take advantage of it. The game is definitely slowing down and I’m getting more comfortable.”
There’s nothing comfortable regarding the Lakers right now. It was one more game where they played with a depleted roster. Missing the game were Pau Gasol (vertigo), Steve Nash (ankle), Chris Kaman (calf) and Xaiver Henry (multiple injuries).
Los Angeles lost its second straight and fourth in five games. The Lakers, losers of six straight road games, are 11-27 away from home this season.
The Lakers (25-50) are experiencing only their eighth losing season since moving west from Minneapolis in 1960. They are on pace to have their worst record in the Los Angeles era. The last time the Lakers had 50 or more losses was 1974-75 (30-52).
”We’ve had a tough (road) trip. But there were a lot of opportunities for a lot of our guys,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antonio said. ”They should be taking these opportunities to get better and try to get some wins.”
Jodie Meeks scored 21 points and Jordan Hill had 18 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter for the Lakers. Nick Young, who scored 40 points Tuesday in a loss to Portland, had 17 points and Kent Bazemore added 14.
DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while rookie guard Ben McLemore had 12 points for Sacramento.
Foul trouble plagued Cousins in the opening half when he played
only 10 minutes and had eight points and three fouls. Cousins picked up his fourth foul with 7:11 left in the third quarter and went to the bench a short time later.
Sacramento, which avoided a series sweep, scored nine straight points early in the second quarter and didn’t trail again in winning its second straight. The Lakers had won the first three meetings this season and beaten their Pacific Division rivals five consecutive overall.
”Absolutely we wanted this win,” Cousins said. ”We definitely didn’t want to get swept.”
Hill hit a jumper and Ryan Kelly followed with a dunk, cutting the Sacramento lead to 103-100. But the Lakers could get no closer in the game’s final minute.
Hill converted two free throws and Meeks made a fast-break layup, cutting the Kings’ lead to 96-91 with 4:32 remaining. Cousins responded with a basket, a free throw, then found Outlaw open for a dunk, giving the Kings a 101-93 lead.
Leading by eight points at the half, the Kings built an 87-76 lead entering the fourth quarter. Gay, McCallum and Cousins all scored seven points in the third when the Kings outscored Los Angeles 27-24.
”I’ve known Ray since I was 15 and I know he can play and has great confidence,” Lakers guard Kendall Marshall said. ”This league is about opportunities and I’m happy for him. But I wish it wasn’t against us.”
The Lakers said Gasol suffered a ”severe recurrence of vertigo” Wednesday in his Sacramento hotel. The 13-year veteran missed four straight games stemming from his initial bout with vertigo 1 1/2 weeks ago, Gasol played Tuesday night in a loss to Portland, but said he might have rushed his return to the court.
NOTES: Former Kings forward Brian Grant was sitting courtside. … McCallum had 17 points and Gay scored 15 in the first half when Sacramento led 60-52. … Hill had four of the Lakers’ six blocks. … It was the 10th 30-point plus game this season for Gay,who added five rebounds, four assists and two steals.