LeBron James Leads Lakers to Comeback Victory vs. DeAaron Fox, Kings

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 5, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) shoots over Sacramento Kings forward Maurice Harkless (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

LeBron James scored 14 of his 31 points in the final eight minutes as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the visiting Sacramento Kings 122-114 on Tuesday at Crypto.com Arena.

Sacramento led 96-89 with 8:11 left in the fourth after a Davion Mitchell floater capped an 11-0 run, but James took over down the stretch.

He hit two three-pointers and four layups and assisted on a pair of Malik Monk threes. The second Monk triple gave the Lakers the lead for good at 112-110 with 2:50 remaining in regulation.

James led all scorers. Monk scored 24 points and went 6-of-11 from three-point range. Dwight Howard dominated off the bench with a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double in 21 minutes.

De'Aaron Fox paced the Kings with 30 points, and Buddy Hield posted 26 points thanks in part to seven three-pointers.

The 20-19 Lakers have won three straight games. The Kings, who had won three of four entering Tuesday, dropped to 16-23.


Notable Performances

Lakers F LeBron James: 31 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds

Lakers SG Malik Monk: 24 points

Lakers C Dwight Howard: 14 points, 14 rebounds

Kings PG De'Aaron Fox: 30 points, 6 assists

Kings SG Buddy Hield: 26 points, 5 rebounds


LeBron, Monk Put on a Show in the 4th Quarter

The Kings went on an 11-0 run to take a 96-89 fourth-quarter lead. During that stretch, the Lakers went empty on five straight possessions thanks to two blocked shots, two turnovers and a missed three-pointer. Meanwhile, the Kings caught fire, causing the Lakers to call a timeout.

From that point forward, it was the LeBron James Show, with Monk acting as his sidekick.

James hit two quick buckets, but Hield responded with a pair of free throws.

Undeterred, Monk then nailed a three-pointer to cut the Kings' edge to 98-96. The Kings then scored four of the next six points, but Monk hit another three to slash the deficit to 102-101:


Big-time buckets from Malik Monk 🎯<a href="https://twitter.com/Lakers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Lakers</a> and Kings in Q4 on NBA TV! <a href="https://t.co/TVvdOBAGEl">pic.twitter.com/TVvdOBAGEl</a>

The two teams then traded big blows, with Hield and James alternating three-pointers on four straight possessions. However, Monk then put L.A. up 109-108 with this huge bucket:


Malik Monk gives the Lakers the lead 🍿 <a href="https://t.co/v1KExkH1Iq">pic.twitter.com/v1KExkH1Iq</a>

Tyrese Haliburton then made a two-pointer, but it was Monk yet again to put L.A. back on top with another three for a 112-110 lead.

From there, the Lakers dominated the paint with a James putback layup, a Russell Westbrook layup and a James three-point play, the latter of which put the icing on the cake:

Spectrum SportsNet @SpectrumSN

LEBRON TAKEOVER. 😤 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LakeShow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LakeShow</a> <a href="https://t.co/MuAFkmmsB6">pic.twitter.com/MuAFkmmsB6</a>


The Lakers face numerous obstacles these days with their defense struggling (in part because of Anthony Davis being sidelined with an injury), forcing them to win some shootouts.

That happened Tuesday with two scorching-hot players continuing their torrid pace.

James has 34.9 points per game in his last nine. Monk has now averaged 20.7 points in his last six games. Together, they willed the Lakers over .500, perhaps for good.


Fox- and Hield-Led Kings Can't Overcome Lakers' Paint Prowess, Turnovers

Fox and Hield kept the Kings in this game with some fantastic shooting. The duo combined for 56 points on a 20-of-39 clip, making nine three-pointers along the way. Sacramento needed their collective effort to keep pace with James, Monk and the rest of the hot-shooting Lakers, and the Kings nearly pulled it off before James took over.

Credit goes to Fox and Hield for a valiant effort, but a few issues ultimately doomed Sacramento outside James and Monk's fourth-quarter efforts.

First, Sacramento lost the battle in the paint. L.A. outscored Sacramento 62-46 in the key. The rebounding numbers were near even (Kings 45, Lakers 44), but Howard had seven offensive boards.

The Kings had no answer for Howard, who turned back the clock to 2009 with a vintage performance. He had 12 points and eight rebounds in the first half alone as he caught numerous lobs from Monk and finished them for powerful dunks:


Dwight Howard has 12 PTS and 8 REB in the first half for the <a href="https://twitter.com/Lakers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Lakers</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>! <a href="https://t.co/fSULLYfiAe">pic.twitter.com/fSULLYfiAe</a>

Howard's minutes proved crucial, as the Lakers finished plus-11 with him on the court.

The other Kings issue was that they committed 18 turnovers to the Lakers' five. They were simply too sloppy with the basketball at times, and five of them occurred in the fourth quarter. Four players had at least three turnovers.

Sacramento's defense was also lacking on this night, with the team only getting two steals and blocking three shots.

In the end, the Kings were in position to win late despite numerous concerns on their end, and that's an encouraging sign for a team that appears to be turning it around based on its recent performances.

They have some things to clean up, but there's plenty of time for Sacramento to fix them in time in hopes of breaking a 16-year playoff drought.


What's Next?

Both teams will host the Atlanta Hawks next.

Atlanta will visit Sacramento on Wednesday at Golden 1 Center before L.A. welcomes the Hawks to town on Friday. Both games are scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET.