Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The bright side? At least it was a single-digit loss. Still, it was another loss the Lakers could have avoided. They decided, however, that they would give the lowly 11-33 Sacramento Kings, a great big confidence boost. On a night that Kobe Bryant surpassed Hakeem Olajuwon to be the 8th highest leading scorer in NBA history, the Lakers, again, fell short on their recent upswing. And here we thought they had turned a corner.

The Sacramento Kings, a whopping 4-16 record on the road, had nowhere to go but up, and with the play of their two big men, DeMarcus Cousins and Samuel Dalembert, they did exactly that. Known for his dissension and complete immaturity, Cousins displayed tonight that he is trying to grow up. Leading the Kings with 27 points on 11-19. 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks, Cousins was all over what little defense the Lakers offered. He started a somewhat quiet war of words with Andrew Bynum, claiming that the Lakers center didn’t deserve to be part of last year’s championship. With the little that Bynum provided tonight, 12 points, four rebounds, three assists, it’s safe to say that Cousins’ bragging rights just shot up a notch.

Samuel Dalembert, who averages about 5 ppg, worked against the often defenseless Pau Gasol, and took advantage to the tune of 18 points on 8-12. Dalembert seemed to scarcely break a sweat against Gasol, shooting over and through the Spaniard in however way that he could, which wasn’t much of a challenge considering Gasol rarely, if ever, contested any of his attempts.

Kobe Bryant scored 21 of his 38 points in the FIRST quarter. It was a rare sight to see Bryant scoring so much so early in the game, when he has chosen to be a distributor in recent weeks. But he clearly had the hot hand, and the Lakers rolled with it for the first 12 minutes, as any team would have done with the hot hand of the evening. Unfortunately, Bryant’s early scoring spree may have gotten in the way of his teammates’ participation in the offense, which is a ridiculous, though very real, source of their lack of production. Bryant had been so conscious lately of making sure his teammates “ate first,” that they may have been thrown off by his sudden desire to take the first bite. Still, he shouldn’t be held responsible for the shortcomings of the Lakers big men. They had numerous chances to put themselves in a position to dominate in this game, but they chose to play lax instead.

Andrew Bynum didn’t have an awful game. He managed to get 12 points on 4-8, but his four measly rebounds and zero blocked shots left a lot to be desired. He fell victim to Sacramento’s crowding defense at the rim, but failed to counter with his own defensive presence on the other end. With such a positive streak of excellent play from Bynum, tonight would’ve been another great opportunity for him to impose his will on the trash talking Cousins.

Pau Gasol, a weak link in the Lakers’ defensive efforts, looked flat-footed and completely disengaged in this game. He scored just nine points on 4-11, missing attempts as he tried to be cute or creative when all he needed to do was DUNK THE BALL. His double digit rebounds, 11, look somewhat impressive, but he went stretches without even attempting to fight for a single board. At one point, the ball came bouncing his way and rather than grabbing the rebound, he ducked out of the way and Sacramento ran off with it. Gasol is, simply put, an enigma; he with superior skill and efficiency, with sometimes a sheer lack of mental and physical fortitude.

Lamar Odom, 0-7 from the field. It was a rare night of inefficiency from Odom. He’s been the Lakers’ most consistent player this season that tonight seemed like an illusion, a bad dream.

The only other bright spot for the Lakers was the play of Shannon Brown. Going 3-5 from 3PT, Brown had 17 points on 7-11, and was a key component to the late-game run that pulled the Lakers out of a 20-point hole. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and the home team just never got over the hump. They (and maybe the Celtics as well, who lost to the Phoenix Suns tonight) may have been looking past their opponents tonight in favor of the season’s first rematch since Game 7.

The hope is that tonight’s game is not an indication of their performance on Sunday. Though with these Lakers, there’s just no telling which team will show up.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
Tempting as it is, DO NOT look past this game to Sunday’s against Boston. Take care of business, one game at a time.
Half-time Thoughts: 59-55 – Kobe Bryant with the hot hand in the half, 26 points on 10-14. The only problem is that the rest of the team has gotten lost in the offense. Actually, the whole team is lost in their defense, allowing Sacramento to score almost 60 points on almost 60% shooting. They were out-rebounded, out-assisted and are lucky they aren’t behind by more. The Laker bigs need to get involved in all areas if the Lakers want to pull out a win before the big Sunday game.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: The Smallish Three – Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum should hope that voters deciding the All-Star Reserves skipped over this game. Yes, Kobe scored…a lot, early on, but he had the hot hand and it would’ve been senseless to keep the ball away from. These Laker big men’s duties haven’t changed from the last game – protect the paint and score inside. It’s BEEN the rule for the last three years, so why the short-term memory?
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: The young and feisty Sacramento Kings, for not letting a losing record (in general and against the Lakers) deter them from playing their game.

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  • gameplan

    Don’t need to push the game we need a healthy team. Good to see kobe being young again serving almost facial to dalembert. As usual PAU vs. another big man is a no show, and cousin maybe right on bynum do not deserve to hold the throphy. It is such a shame for those people who paid big money only to see lakers embarrassed by sub-500 team on their home court. I’m not pissed but disappointed.
    Pau and bynum only cares for touches when kobe doing his work this 2 punks has no support on the defensive end..Pau don’t deserved a starting all star.

    • atlfan

      Stop overreacting!!!

  • king-manu

    guys… this happend the last 3 or 4 years…lakers taking bad teams to easy and loose the game… thats no problem…thats the lakers… we will be fine… now focus and beat the celtics…so please no fckin trade lamar and gasol for dwight howard or something…the loss sucks but it happens… so just relax

  • Tyler

    Anyone smell a repeat of the Miami Game coming ?
    Lakers loose to a sub ( I mean SUB) 500 team again…right before a huge matchup……ya. Well the Kings snapped their Laker losing streak. Ya know, I think the Pacers did earlier this year..Clippers too ? The lakers have a lower than usual record due to their losses to Sub 500 teams. Lets just hope they beat boston and redeem themselves

  • edsel pinoy 2

    dissapointed but not pissed. couldn’t agree more with gameplan. we were lax with d on this game. overlooked the team? i guess so. anyway the big one up on sunday, monday here in the phil. hope the lakers could recapture thier defensive prowess by that time. kobe, still the best. play on the post pls. kick out if they 3ple team u. bad loss. no big deal. this la, so nothing’s specific. just trying to get to that 3peat groove. kumusta mga pinoy. eds peace out.

    • gameplan

      thanks for the read kabayan!

  • lakers2000

    I had a feeling I didn’t want to watch this game. Now another Sunday game against a contender is in view. They don’t seem to win those often. Come on West, light another fire under their asses!

    • lakers2000

      Jerry, that is.

  • 242LakerFan

    I honestly can’t say that this was a shocker. I was very much overlooking this game myself, but it still hurts to lose to these teams. The beginning of this season was marked by blowouts of teams like this. I was looking forward to a lot more, but it seems this complacency has taken over the entire team, this feeling that there is no need to put forth the same effort against the Kings as against the contenders. News flash! The Kings are an NBA team. They are a team that has more talent than many of the teams ahead of them and a team that always seems to play us well, even when they lose. This is a league in which you can’t take nights off an win.
    The only silver lining was that Boston laid the same egg against Phoenix.
    Anyway, the real thing happens tomorrow.
    VNWA.

    • LakerMarc

      242 you’re right.. but what it seems like is that the Lakers can’t just flip the switch because they find it difficult to come from behind and actually pull off the win. I have been saying for the last two years that eventually the Lakers would come to this point when the switch can be flipped but the light doesn’t go on….now what? and as for the douchebag hopefuls who say ‘we’ll be fine’ and ‘everything is ok’…I think they are saying this to convince themselves rather than anyone else…..maybe panic isn’t in order here but, serious worry should be and its very possible the Lakers don’t pull it together tomorrow either and this weekend would mirror the xmas fiasco!

  • 242LаkerFаn

    and if we lose tomorrow, i firmly believe Mitch should be looking at ways to upgrade the team (i.e Melo)

  • http://chasesagum.com Organic Internet Marketing

    No need to panic Laker fans! These kind of losses happen when you are trying to win our 3RD CHAMPIONSHIP IN A ROW!!!

    I went back and checked the stats on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls who were getting ready for their 2nd 3-peat before Jordan retired (because I have no life) and they were 33-14 at this time of the season. The Lakers are currently 33-14 as we speak! The similarities continue…

    • LakerMarc

      ho hum…this is the Lakers not the phucking bulls

    • yash

      except they played good teams and had a tougher schedule didnt they? If the lakers lost to only the good teams and not the crappy ones. they should be no.1 or two in the league right now. with 7 or 8 losses or how many ever teams that were .500+

      • gameplan

        Do we really care being no. 1 or 2 in the league? where was the lakers last season no 3?, 4?

  • D Michael

    Oh no! We suck again