Kings try to keep Lakers down
Bogdan Bogdanovic has had three days to relish his game-winning 3-pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers. He’ll head back to work with the Sacramento Kings on Sunday evening and face the same Los Angeles team he knocked off in their first game without LeBron James.
James is expected to remain sidelined with a groin injury. The Lakers are 0-2 without him.
The Lakers (20-16) appeared headed to victory Thursday in Sacramento, building a 15-point lead with 6:44 left in the game, but the Kings began chipping away before Bogdanovic sank the game-winner from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded.
While the Kings (19-16) have been off since that win, the Lakers took another loss Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, letting a double-digit third-quarter lead slip away before a 22-0 run by the Clippers finished them off in the 118-107 loss.
Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after the latest loss that the players quit competing as a unit during the deciding run.
“That can’t happen,” he said. “We can lose games, but we’ll lose them together. When we win them, we’ll win them together. No matter what’s happening on the court, we have to stay together and keep working and figure it out.”
James injured his groin Christmas night in a win against the Golden State Warriors. The four-time NBA MVP does not have a timeline for his return, but the Lakers are expected to be patient.
“Obviously, we want him back soon as possible, but we also will be very cautious when we bring him back,” Walton said earlier in the week.
After the Kings, the Lakers next play the Oklahoma City Thunder in a nationally televised game on Wednesday at Staples Center.
Sacramento is in position to climb four games over .500 for the first time since Nov. 25, 2014. The Kings were in that position four other times this season and lost, most recently to the Clippers on Wednesday. They nearly pulled off a miracle comeback after cutting a 27-point fourth-quarter deficit to three with 1:12 left, but were halted there in the 127-118 loss.
The 15-point comeback against the Lakers was the third time Sacramento has come back from that deficit in seven days.
“When you get to the end of the season, you might miss it by one or two games and then you look back and say you should have got this game or you should have got that game,” Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox told the Sacramento Bee after the win against the Lakers. “Every game matters.”
While the Kings return to Staples Center for another shot at getting four games over .500, the Lakers will brace for another game without James, who has been at his best at the end of close games this season, serving as the glue that holds the team together.
“The biggest thing for us is just to always be together,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said after the loss to the Clippers. “Every team has rough patches in a season, and we’ve been down bodies all year, different lineups, and we can’t let those things affect us. It’s all about us sticking together and just keeping it like a fist.”