Even though LeBron James and Russell Westbrook had relatively off nights, the Lakers won 122-114 by rallying behind clutch buckets from James, a stellar performance from Talen Horton-Tucker off the bench, and key contributions from Malik Monk and Dwight Howard.
James had a slow start to the game, but still scored 31 points to lead the Lakers in the fourth quarter, his three treys kept the Lakers in the game as he went shot-for-shot down the stretch. As a whole, LeBron contributed to 20 of the 37 points the Lakers scored in the fourth quarter.
Westbrook had a bad start to the game, shooting 1-7 from the field and committing a technical foul to end the first quarter. Although Westbrook’s shooting woes continued into the second quarter, his teammates came through in that period, as the Lakers outscored the Kings 31-28 to close the gap to two points heading into the break.
Russ finally found his stride in the second half, scoring 19 points and, most significantly, finishing the game with zero turnovers for the first time in 407 games.
In contrast to Westbrook, Horton-Tucker had his best game in weeks, scoring 19 points off the bench and making his first 3-pointer in five games. The Laker’s young winger also exuded confidence and aggression the whole game, displaying a level of smoothness and control that had been missing in his previous games.
Dwight Howard, who came off the bench, nearly had a double-double in the first half, scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 rebounds en route to a 14-point, 14-rebound performance. And while the Lakers were neck-and-neck with the Kings in the fourth, starting shooting guard Malik Monk continued his aggressive play on offense by scoring 24 points after a rough start.
The Lakers improved to 20-19 on the season with this win, and they will now have two days off before hosting the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
King James tip-off incident
Since the start of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have had trouble finding a reliable and conventional center. As a result of Davis’ long-term absence, the Lakers are experimenting with LeBron James. At 37 years old, LeBron is still making chase-down blocks. Furthermore, he averages the most minutes on his team, playing an absurd amount of minutes per game. This kind of behavior has never been seen in the NBA before, especially for someone of his age.
However, in the game against the Kings, LeBron did something that almost none of his fans would imagine he could do. He refused to jump for the ball at tip-off for the first time in his career. Fans of the Lakers who have all their hopes on LeBron James were unhappy with his decision. Some say they were disgruntled that LeBron didn’t seem to care at tip-off and his lack of effort.
Lmao come on, LeBron 🤣pic.twitter.com/j6IJrYREMC
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 5, 2022
“Dude really showing everyone he out there not even trying to compete,” said one Twitter user.
“Bro said I’m too old for this sh-t,” said the other
Age has been a constant component that every observer considered while looking at LeBron’s play, from the roster to his minutes on the court. For the most part this season, LeBron defied all odds for his age and never failed to put up a great performance.
However, the question is how long he will be able to maintain this level of consistency. And what happened at the tip-off could be the first indicator that his age is finally affecting his performance.