Kobe Bryant battles under the net. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Lakers 103 - Kings 90 (final)
The Lakers improved to 3-4 with a relatively easy game against the Sacramento Kings Sunday night.
Already short DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson, the Kings lost Jason Thompson with his sixth foul just 2 1/2 minutes into the fourth. Sacramento was left overmatched inside as Dwight Howard scored 23 points with 18 rebounds.
The Lakers also got 20 points from Kobe Bryant and 18 apiece from Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol.
The Kings threatened slightly with a spurt from Jimmer Fredette, leading the Kings with 17 points on 7-9 shooting. It was enough for interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff to stick with Howard, Bryant and Gasol for longer than he might have liked.
The Lakers shot 44.4% from the field while holding Sacramento to 40%.
Bickerstaff improves to 2-0. The Lakers may hire his replacement by Tuesday night's game against the San Antonio Spurs. If not, Bickerstaff's perfect record as Lakers coach could be in jeopardy.
Lakers 79 - Kings 66 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers continued to expand their lead over the Kings in the third quarter, highlighted by Kobe Bryant's lob to Metta World Peace for a dunk.
In addition to a sizable 37-28 rebound advantage, the Lakers have shot 45.9% from the field while holding the Kings to 40.3%
Bryant is the game's leading scorer through three periods with 20. Dwight Howard and Gasol each have 16 and World Peace has 12.
The Kings are led by Jason Thompson's 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Lakers 57 - Kings 48 (halftime)
For the second-straight period, the Lakers finished with their biggest lead. The Kings, playing primarily against Lakers reserves, were able to erase their first-quarter deficit.
Once Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace were put back into the lineup with Dwight Howard, the Lakers reestablished control of the game.
Steve Blake was able to return to action after a first-quarter abdominal strain.
Bryant led the Lakers with 15 points while Howard already had a double-double by the half (14 points and 10 rebounds).
The Kings were led by Jason Thompson with 10.
Both teams committed nine turnovers apiece in the half. The Lakers hold a large rebounding advantage (26-16).
Lakers 29 - Kings 22 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers finished the first quarter against the Kings with the biggest lead of the game (seven) after falling down by three.
The Kings turned to Jason Thompson and Travis Outlaw to fill the void left by the suspended pair of DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson. The duo would score just two apiece in the first while Dwight Howard Pau Gasol combined for 11.
The Lakers, playing without Steve Nash (leg), lost Steve Blake less than seven minutes into the game with an abdominal strain. His status for the night is unclear.
Jordan Hill gave a boost with a pair put-backs. The Lakers shot 52.4% from the field for the quarter. The Kings shot 45%.
The Lakers have a perfect 1-0 record for interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff. As the organization pursues the replacement for Mike Brown, the players will look to win their second in a row on Sunday night, hosting the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings can be a potent team when it all comes together, although they seemed more threatening throughout the preseason, currently tied with the Lakers at 2-4.
Kings' big men DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson will miss tonight's game, serving suspensions for separate incidents.
Cousins was suspended by the league for confronting San Antonio Spurs announcer Sean Elliot in a hostile manner following Sacramento's 97-86 loss to San Antonio on Friday. Robinson is serving the second game of a two-game suspension for throwing an elbow to the neck of Detroit Pistons' Jonas Jerebko on Nov. 7.
Were the Lakers playing off of emotion on Friday night, leading to their 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors? Have the Lakers finally come together on the heels of Brown's departure?
For a more in-depth preview, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Kings.