The game went back and forth all night as neither side maintained a lead for a good chunk of the game.
It looked like the Kings would head towards a win after going on an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter after trailing 89-85, but LeBron James woke up from a bad shooting night and got help from Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker to edge Sacramento in a clutch outing. Dwight Howard also provided a key presence down low throughout the game.
Los Angeles is now 20-19 on the season. Here is how the squad graded individually after the win:
Russell Westbrook: B
Russell Westbrook didn’t have a good shooting night, but the key takeaways are that he got to the rim when he wanted to and didn’t register a single turnover. The last time he played over 30 minutes and didn’t turn the ball over came in 2013, so this was definitely a long time coming for a player who is ranked No. 2 in the league in turnovers per game.
Westbrook finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and a block on 7-of-19 shooting. He didn’t need to create as much tonight with the way Horton-Tucker and Monk played.
Avery Bradley: D-plus
Avery Bradley’s defense is the primary reason his grade is low. He struggled to contain De’Aaron Fox on the perimeter all night and hit just 1-of-4 shots from deep. Fox’s quickness is a tough task for any defender in the league, but Bradley just couldn’t keep up often though he had pleasant moments with boxing out and cutting to the rim on offense.
Malik Monk: A-plus
Malik Monk shined when the Lakers desperately needed players to step up. His scoring run continued with a 24-point night on 8-of-15 overall and 6-of-11 from deep. He hit two clutch 3s in the fourth to keep the Lakers alive and added four rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block to his stat line. Just incredible value for the veteran minimum.
Trevor Ariza: D
Trevor Ariza played just 18 minutes, the lowest of any starter. He struggled against Sacramento’s size down low and had a game to forget on both ends of the floor. This is where having Stanley Johnson would’ve helped, but he and the Lakers haven’t come to terms on a new deal just yet.
LeBron James: A-minus
LeBron looked and played tired all night — until it mattered most. His jumpers were often short and his legs seemed to be out of juice, but when the Lakers needed him to win, he delivered. He hit two triples in the fourth, two layups out of a timeout to stop Sacramento’s 11-0 run and got an and-1 opportunity by taking on Damian Jones. James finished with 31 points, five rebounds, five assists and a block on 12-of-26 shooting overall and 3-of-10 from deep.
This wasn’t exactly a *good* game for LeBron considering what he’s done lately, but the Lakers still managed to extract a victory.
Talen Horton-Tucker: A-plus
Talen Horton-Tucker was due for a big game, and it finally happened at an opportune time. The third-year combo guard has been struggling after a hot three-game streak to start the season. Tonight, he found some of that momentum again. He got to his spots near the rim and converted, hit a 3-pointer and dazzled with some tough fadeaways en route to a 19-point night on 9-of-13 shooting. He added six assists, four rebounds and two steals to his name in one of his best performances of the season.
Dwight Howard: A-plus
The Lakers played Dwight Howard 22 minutes off the bench to match Sacramento’s size and physicality down low, and he helped turn the tide in the first half. He developed a fluid two-man game with Monk to get easy dunks at the rim and ended the game with 14 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
The 6-of-12 shooting should’ve been better because he missed easy layups, but the Lakers now know they can rely on him in short bursts while maintaining small-ball lineups.
Austin Reaves: B
Austin Reaves logged just two rebounds and an assist while missing his only shot attempt in 21 minutes, but he still had a good game. His defense and passing continue to be fundamentally sound, even if he doesn’t show it on the box score.
Carmelo Anthony: A
The Lakers played Carmelo Anthony for just 17 minutes, but he made some big shots during that time. He went 4-of-4 from inside the arc for an eight-point, three-rebound night, but all shots came at necessary times. Two of them were one-legged shots with his back to the basket, so Anthony brought back the vintage shots to leave his mark on the game.