Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs. Kings – Game 49

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After a rough loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at home, the Lakers kicked off their seven-game road trip by getting back on track with a 115-94 blowout win over the Sacramento Kings.

 

Lakers vs Kings
Photo Credit: Silver Screen and Roll

Marc Gasol was re-inserted back into the starting lineup and found Markieff Morris for a lob early in the first. Although the Lakers committed five turnovers, they could hold on to a 15-9 lead midway through the first because of their defense.

Gasol was a factor on both ends as he deterred shots at the rim and moved the ball on offense to keep Los Angeles’ offense flowing, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope knocked down a pair of threes to put the team ahead 13. However, Sacramento responded with a 10-0 run at the end of the quarter, and L.A. saw themselves only up 29-27.

Talen Horton-Tucker sparked the Lakers atop the second with a couple of crafty drives to the rim, while a Kyle Kuzma three gave them some breathing room. The Los Angeles bench continued to play well on both ends and managed to extend their lead to as much as 16.

 

Although the Kings went on a brief run to cut the deficit, the Lakers were able to answer with a spurt of their own to stay comfortably ahead. Harrison Barnes did his best to keep Sacramento close, but Los Angeles went into the half leading 65-53.

 

Lakers vs Kings
Photo Credit: NBA

It was a sloppy start to the third for the Lakers as they struggled with turnovers and poor possessions but still led by 15 after another Kuzma 3-pointer. Each time Sacramento looked like they would go on a run, the Lakers responded to keep them from making up any ground.

The two teams traded a flurry of shots from beyond the arc, with the Lakers still holding a double-digit edge. Horton-Tucker converted on a difficult layup at the end of the period, and L.A. went into the fourth up 91-76.

The Lakers took a 20-point to begin the final quarter after they swung the ball to Alex Caruso for a corner three. Caruso later followed it up with a poster dunk over Moe Harkless that energized the rest of the team.

For L.A., the 3-point shooting was a huge positive as the team has struggled greatly in that department as of late. Another positive sign was the play of Kuzma, who was the best player on the floor for either team, finishing with 30 points, five rounds, and three assists on 11-of-18 shooting.

 

Lakers News and Notes:

 

Lakers vs Kings
Photo Credit: Yahoo

The Los Angeles Lakers signing center Andre Drummond on the buyout market was a big move for the team as he brings things that they were missing in the middle. However, what is unclear is what it means for the rest of the Lakers’ frontcourt rotation, namely Marc Gasol.

Things have not gone quite as anticipated for the big man this season as he has struggled to make a major impact for much of the year. But Gasol seems to have found his stride recently, and his playmaking and IQ have been greatly needed in the absence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Drummond’s addition will obviously impact and lessen Gasol’s role, especially as Drummond was inserted into the starting lineup for his first appearance in Purple and Gold against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Gasol was out of the rotation on that night, but due to Drummond’s injury, he played in the fourth quarter and again, had a good outing. Gasol then returned to the starting lineup against the Kings and put forth another good all-around performance.

Despite the uncertainty of his role from now on, Gasol remains professional and committed to this team.

 

“Things can change quickly in the NBA just as they have changed for me, but I’m committed to this team,” Gasol said“It’s a hard pill to swallow because I know I’m moving out of the lineup at some point and that’s never easy on a player. As a basketball player, you want to play. You want to contribute, especially when you make that commitment for that reason, but we’ll see.”

 

Gasol is making it very difficult for Frank Vogel to keep him out of the rotation. Although it was only 1 game with Drummond as the Lakers starter, the difference on offense has been clear, and while he is not the traditional rim protector, he is always in the right spot on defense. The question is how Vogel will manage minutes for his loaded frontcourt.

 

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that beginning on April 15, fans will be able to return to Staples Center.

 

Lakers vs Kings
Photo Credit: Barry’s Tickets

The Lakers become one of the latest teams to re-open their arenas to fans amidst the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. California has been one of the most conservative states regarding re-opening establishments. Still, the rising number of vaccinated individuals and downward trend of cases makes re-opening more feasible.

The Lakers released a statement with the news.

 

“We are incredibly excited that the State of California announced guidelines today that will allow Lakers fans to return to STAPLES Center. Now that we have the guidance, we will work with LA County Public Health and STAPLES Center to finalize our plans to have fans safely attend our games starting with the Lakers vs. Celtics game on April 15. We look forward to welcoming Lakers fans back to STAPLES Center to continue the journey with us to defend our NBA title.”

 

It is unclear how many fans will actually be able to attend games, but this is a welcomed development as the Lakers have been sorely missing the energy from a live crowd. Players like LeBron James have been hopeful they could play in front of fans during the 2020-21 season, and now they will finally get their wish.

Los Angeles has been adamant they will not be raising their 2020 NBA Championship banner until fans could be in attendance, so there is the possibility that they could hoist it when they play the Celtics. While an announcement about that could be made soon, it is good to know fans will be back in time for that specific game.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is excited for fans to return to Staples Center.

 

“That’s going to be super exciting for our whole community,” Vogel said. “I know our guys our coaches our organization internally will be really excited about it. I think the players on the floor will notice the energy that our fans bring and obviously we don’t know how many fans will be in there yet, but just having some in there will bring us great energy and I’m just happy for the L.A. community.

“One of everybody’s favorite things to do is go to a Lakers game and they haven’t been able to do that during this pandemic, so just really excited about this news.”

 

 

The Lakers have a “road game” as they head back to Los Angeles to take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Easter Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is at 12:30 pm and you can watch the game on ABC and on Spectrum SportsNet.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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