The reviled Kings beat the Lakers ... and LeBron rests

LeBron James rested for the first time in the entire course. The Lakers arrived alive at the end, but failed at the key moment and are now fourth in the West.


When, hours before the Lakers-Kings game began, it became known that LeBron James was going to rest, few believed it. It was the first time all season that the Lakers star was going to miss a game. Until now, and at 36 years old, he had 36 of 36, with an average of 25.8 points, 8 rebounds and 7.8 assists, a good role in defense and the total leadership of a team that has already had 14 absences of Anthony Davis and who had a brilliant start before injuries suffered a squad that has added, in Sacramento, its sixth loss in the last eight games. The proximity of the All Star, which LeBron will play despite his public complaints, has caused the King to agree a few minutes of rest with his coach, Frank Vogel, who seems to mind losing third place in the Western Conference in favor of the Suns , who beat them the other day with, precisely, a formidable performance by LeBron: 38 + 5 + 6, 2 steals, 1 block ... and 38 more minutes for legs that have suffered too much in a last month full of Overtime, an inordinate amount of track time despite injuries and the assumption of greater responsibility with Anthony Davis (and company) in the dry dock.

The proximity of the All Star has forced the fulfillment of an almost forced rest, but LeBron is not what they leave the ship adrift even overnight. In the evicted Cavaliers of 2017-18, his last year in Ohio before heading to Los Angeles, he played all 82 games for the first time in his career before the avalanche of bad play generated, with a loose squad and an identity, the of the 2016 ring, completely lost. And not only that, he also got them into the Finals with a supreme playoff performance. Another example of his commitment and his way of seeing basketball became latent in the past season: at 35 years old, many asked him for more rest despite averaging 34.6 minutes per game, the minimum of his career (identical figure to the of the present course), but James refused to watch the confrontations from the bench unless there was a force majeure cause, such as an injury. This confronted him, not directly but silently, with a Kawhi Leonard who has sponsored the idea of load management, absolutely corrected in the current season by his new coach, Tyronn Lue, before the bad results of the past and in line with his idea. game, which begins by having a chemistry with the fewest possible cracks.

Without LeBron, the game was even, full of alternatives (there were 14 changes of leadership and 11 draws), and with very good times for the Lakers, who could not close at the end a duel that they had in their hand and that they would have deserved. The first quarter was majestic on both sides of the court (23-31), but the Kings woke up in the second with one of those accelerations typical of the increasingly maligned direction of Luke Walton and that almost never stay in time. : 40-30 and 63-61 at halftime. At the restart, the give and take was consistent, with both teams consistently having options. The last period was crazy: the Angelenos started with leads of 87-92 and 90-94, but the Kings turned the tables and went eight ahead (108-100) with six minutes to go. A Montrzl Harrell basket tied the game at 115 with just over a minute to go and two free throws by Schröder made it 119-120 with 42 seconds. Harrison Barnes gave the locals an advantage and the next play was a real nonsense: Schröder's failure in the penetration, Harrell's rebound, Harrell's failure, rebound with a new error, Harrell's rebound again, Kuzma's rebound, Harrell's third consecutive failure , and one more attempt for Kuzma, very forced and behind the basket, after the fourth offensive rebound from Los Angeles on the same play.

The game did not give for more, with Barnes sentencing from the personal and Kuzma failing a final triple that would have forced the extension. The Lakers did not give a bad image despite the losses: 25 points and 13 rebounds from Kyle Kuzma, 28, with 9 assists, from Schröder, and 26 + 12 from Harrell, who opposes his second consecutive Best Sixth Man award after snatching him that of last year, precisely, to Schröder. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went to 10 points without a miss (4 of 4 from the field with 2 of 2 on triples) and Markieff Morris reached 11, with Talen Horton-Tucker improving slightly from the bench after several performances that have left much to be desired: 9 + 2 + 5 + 2. In the Kings, 20 + 3 + 6 by Harrison Barnes, 29 + 6 + 6 by Buddy Hield, 23, with 8 assists for De'Aaron Fox and a few hours, few, of respite for Walton, who arrived with 10 losses in his last 11 games behind him and he sees the playoffs digging further: they are 4.5 victories from eighth place and they will have to make a tremendous sprint after the All Star if they want to give a blow that does not seem possible. And the Lakers? West Quarters, with Portland at 2.5 wins, the Spurs at three ... anyway. When they are all, we will see. And we will judge.

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