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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings: Postgame Grades for LA

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings: Postgame Grades for LA
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol had 19 points and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied late for a 106-100 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, sending the Kings to their sixth straight loss.

The Lakers trailed for most of this game, but big plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch helped Los Angeles secure its sixth win in its last eight contests.

Meeks, Gasol and Nick Young all hit big shots within the final minute-and-a-half, and L.A. used 12 threes to help down Sacramento.

The Lakers shot 48 percent from the floor overall and won in spite of being out-rebounded 51-36.

The Kings got 20 points from DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore, but turnovers and missed opportunities in the waning moments cost them a victory.

Sacramento, which shot 43 percent from the floor, has now lost four heartbreakers in a row.

 

Key Player Grades

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

 

Pau Gasol, Power Forward

Pau Gasol struggled for most of this one.

The big man went 6-of-15 from the floor, never establishing good position in the post and settling for long fadeaways instead of utilizing his footwork inside.

Gasol also didn't get many good looks from the perimeter and was unable throughout the night to become a significant cog in the offense. To make matters worse, Gasol had some trouble defending DeMarcus Cousins whenever he drew him as an assignment, as Cousins occasionally bullied him inside.

However, Gasol hit a huge jumper to put the Lakers up one with about a minute-and-a-half to go, adding some oomph to his overall performance.

Plus, he went 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Gasol ended with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Grade: C

 

Jodie Meeks, Shooting Guard

Jodie Meeks had quite an evening.

Meeks scored 19 points and hit on five of his six three-point attempts, and one of those triples was a corner trey to put Los Angeles up four with just over a minute remaining.

While he had some issues on defense, losing his man on off-ball cuts, Meeks was so outstanding on the offensive end that his defensive miscues don't look as damaging.

He went 7-of-11 from the floor overall and registered a plus-10.

Hats off, Jodie.

Grade: A

 

Steve Blake, Point Guard

I absolutely love the way Steve Blake has been playing this season.

He had another solid effort on Friday night, recording a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists in 39 minutes.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Blake wasn't exactly efficient, going 5-of-13 and missing seven of his nine three-point attempts, but he did a phenomenal job of controlling the offense, breaking down the defense and kicking the ball out to his fellow three-point shooters.

I can't give Blake too high of a mark because of his inefficient shooting clip, but he at least deserves an admirable mark due to his ability to maintain the offense and because he did not record a single turnover in the second half.

Grade: B

 

Wesley Johnson, Small Forward

Talk about a guy resurrecting his career. Or, better yet, making a career.

Wesley Johnson has certainly found a home in L.A., and his performance on Friday night was concrete evidence of that.

The lanky wing scored 13 point off 5-of-9 shooting, knocking down three treys and racking up five steals on the defensive end.

He also had a highlight reel block on Isaiah Thomas, swatting away a layup attempt by the Kings' point guard in transition.

Grade: A-

 

Robert Sacre, Center

Robert Sacre got off to a great start in his first start of the season, tallying seven points and four rebounds in the first period.

Sacre also played some tough post defense on DeMarcus Cousins, representing the only Laker strong enough to legitimately put a body on the Kings' big man inside.

However, Sacre ran into some foul trouble, committing four fouls in just 16 minutes.

Still, he was productive in the time he saw, going for 11 points off 5-of-7 shooting.

Grade: B+

 

Nick Young, Sixth Man

Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Nick Young didn't shoot the ball particularly well, going 6-of-16 and missing all six of his long-range tries, but he scored 14 points and put the dagger through the heart of Sacramento with a jumper to give L.A. a six-point lead with under a minute to go.

Young also did a solid job playing the role of distributor off the bench, totaling three assists.

Grade: C+

 

 

Bench

You have to appreciate the gutsy effort by Jordan Hill on Friday night.

Hill started out the game slowly, largely due to the fact that he is a nursing a bum ankle.

However, the big man erupted in the second half, constantly crashing the offensive glass and creating extra possessions for his team. He also played his role very well offensively, setting good screens and not trying to do too much.

Hill finished with seven points and nine boards in just 15 minutes.

Shawne Williams also gave the Lakers some productive burn, hitting a couple of triples and grabbing three rebounds in 23 minutes.

Finally, Xavier Henry scored four points in 17 minutes.

All of that said, you can tell that Los Angeles really misses Jordan Farmar off the bench, because the team really struggled offensively when Blake was off the floor.

Still, this was a solid effort by L.A.'s pine.

Grade: B+

 

What's Next for the Lakers?

I think we all know what's next: the return of Kobe Bryant.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Bryant will be back for Los Angeles' Sunday meeting with the Toronto Raptors, and I can't even begin to imagine what the atmosphere at Staples Center is going to be like when he steps on the floor.

Not only that, but the Lakers should win that game. They then get the Phoenix Suns at home before embarking on a four-game road trip that includes contests against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies.

The road ahead may be difficult, but L.A. is getting its leader back.

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