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LeBron James, Lakers bring hot streak to Sacramento

Jan 6, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) moves to the basket against Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) and guard Trae Young (11) during the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers will attempt to stretch their season-best winning streak to five games when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Los Angeles has been trying to dig out of an early season 2-10 hole and has yet to reach the .500 mark this season. But the recent run, which includes a 130-114 home victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, has Los Angeles sitting at 18-21.

LeBron James is encouraged after the team’s recent performances, which have come without fellow star Anthony Davis (foot).

“We’re playing some good basketball,” James said after the Friday victory. “We’ve got to continue to keep stacking quarters, keep stacking halves and keep stacking games because we’re a team that gets a little confidence and then we want to keep going.”

James sat out the Lakers’ 112-109 home win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday due to an illness. He returned to have a solid all-around game against the Hawks with 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. The 38-year-old veteran has scored 30 or more points in nine of his past 12 appearances.

“I feel really good mentally, as strong as I’ve been this season,” James said. “My guys trust me to go out and produce every night, and it’s up to me to trust them as well.”

Los Angeles has scored 130 points twice during the four-game run and is averaging 123.3 during that span.

Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn, who scored a season-best 23 points in 27 minutes off the bench against Atlanta, will be handling a bigger role in the short term. That’s because the Lakers announced earlier Friday that guards Lonnie Walker IV (knee) and Austin Reaves (hamstring) will miss approximately two weeks apiece.

Los Angeles is 0-2 against Sacramento this season and has dropped the past three meetings.

The Kings are enjoying a solid first half and are in fifth place in the Western Conference as the midway point of the season approaches.

Sacramento dropped the opener of a five-game homestand on Wednesday when it fell 120-117 to the Hawks. The Kings led by four with 1:16 left before the Hawks scored the final seven points.

“We’ve won a lot of those close games,” Sacramento guard Kevin Huerter said. “It feels like this is the first one in a while we’ve lost that came down to the wire. For the most part, we’ve done a good job down the stretch.”

Big man Domantas Sabonis recorded 20 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists to notch his 15th consecutive double-double, matching the franchise record set by DeMarcus Cousins during the 2013-14 season. Sabonis leads the NBA with 28 doubles-doubles.

Sabonis was one of four Sacramento players to score at least 20 points on Wednesday. De’Aaron Fox led the way with 25, Huerter added 24 and Harrison Barnes scored 22 points.

Kings coach Mike Brown has overseen the impressive turnaround, but he was disappointed in the defensive performance late in the loss to Atlanta.

“I say this all the time — people say, ‘Hey, guys, you’re doing great playing fast and the offense is this, the offense is that,'” Brown said. “At the end of the day, the offense is fun to watch and all that, and you can probably win some regular-season games, but we have to be able to sit down and guard if we expect to be a really good team and make some noise come playoff time.”

Kings reserve guard Malik Monk is questionable for Saturday due to left lower leg soreness.

–Field Level Media