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Kings have chance to avenge most-recent loss to Lakers

Jan 15, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA;  Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) rebounds in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Surging while on a four-game winning streak, the Sacramento Kings will visit Los Angeles on Wednesday to meet the Lakers with some payback in mind.

The Kings have won their last four games, including a 132-119 road victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday in a streak that started after a home defeat to the Lakers on Jan. 7. That 136-134 loss came despite 34 points and nine assists from De’Aaron Fox and 25 points and 12 rebounds from Domantas Sabonis.

It is just one of three defeats for Sacramento in the past 10 games, in a stretch that includes a victory over the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets.

The Kings’ past four games have included an average of 135.5 points per contest in two victories over the Houston Rockets and one each against the Orlando Magic and Spurs. Harrison Barnes scored 29 points at San Antonio, while Fox had 23 and Sabonis had 18 with 18 rebounds.

Fox leads the Kings with 23.8 points per game, while Sabonis is on top with 12.6 rebounds. Barnes delivers 15.2 points, but during the four-game winning streak that average is up to 25.5 points.

Sabonis, who has delivered 20 consecutive double-doubles, was named the most recent Western Conference player of the week. He has averaged 18.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists during the win streak.

The next step for the Kings? Improving the defense.

“We can’t keep defending for (just) 24 minutes a game, especially in the second half,” Kings head coach Mike Brown said. “It’s just something our guys are going to have to do. If not, we’ll just keep finding different combinations that we can throw out on the floor that can continue playing the offense the way we want to play, but more importantly, while getting stops.”

The defensive focus for the Kings on Wednesday will be on LeBron James, who scored a season-high 48 points in the Lakers’ 140-132 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday. James has averaged 37.0 points over his last seven games, with 9.7 rebounds and 8.6 assists.

James is also 315 points away from matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record of 38,387 career points.

“Obviously I’m not going to be perfect. I’m not going to make every shot. But I just try to lock in on the job at hand,” said James, who has been playing through ankle soreness. “And I could have very easily took (Monday) off, but I don’t feel like the momentum of our ballclub could use me taking a night off like (Monday).”

The Lakers just ended a three-game losing streak and are much improved, going 6-3 since Dec. 30. One key to the recent run of success has been taking care of the ball. The Lakers set a franchise low of two turnovers against the Rockets.

The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook matched his season high of seven turnovers as recently as a Jan. 9 loss to the Denver Nuggets, but he did not have a turnover in 32 minutes Monday.

“It’s something we have been talking about in terms of being more deliberate offensively in what we want to do and what we want to get into,” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said. “In the midst of all that is taking care of the ball.”

–Field Level Media