Culture of Hoops

Defense optional as Sacramento Kings lose to Los Angeles Lakers

Image courtesy of RMTip21 | Flickr

Image courtesy of RMTip21 | Flickr

Three points are worth more than two.

That seemed to be the extent of the Los Angeles Lakers’ strategy Friday and it worked. The Lakers couldn’t miss from behind the arc, and their 19-of-27 three-point shooting propelled them to a 126-122 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Each team’s defense went out the window almost immediately, as players from either squad got good looks at will.

In the absence of Carl Landry and DeMarcus Cousins—Landry was hurt and Cousins was suspended a game by the NBA for punching Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets—Derrick Williams was given a starting nod. Enlivened by the temporarily increased role and minutes, Williams played with a fresh enthusiasm that fueled the Kings offense. He constantly attacked the rim, drawing contact and finishing shots in the paint, utilizing an aggressive approach to rack up 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Defense was optional Friday night, and both teams opted not to play it. Players from either team waltzed through the paint with virtually no resistance.

The difference in the contest ended up being Los Angeles’ unbelievable shooting from three. The Lakers were unconscious from deep for most of the night and they only improved as the game wore on. Los Angeles’ aerial assault was led by Jordan Farmar, who came off the bench to tally a career-high eight threes (he shot 10) and 30 points.

The Kings led for much of the game, but the Lakers’ incendiary shooting performance narrowed the gap late. In the fourth quarter you could see Los Angeles players’ eyes widen when they were given even the slightest bit of space, just before they pulled up to fire and, in most cases, make a shot. The Lakers’ 19 made threes was the highest single-game total in franchise history and just four off the league record. They shot a higher percentage and more attempts from three than they did the free-throw line. Six of the 11 Lakers that entered the game knocked down at least one three—five of them hit two or more.

It was simply a striking display of shooting.

While Los Angeles’ shooting was extraordinary, it’s still no defense for the defense Sacramento played. It was one of the team’s worst defensive outings of a season with many, and came right after a game against Houston of which the exact statement could be made.

It’s sure to disappoint Michael Malone and his team will have its hands even more full when it takes on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.

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