Lakers top Kings for 3rd straight win

(TSX / STATS) -- LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers ratcheted up their defensive intensity in crunch time to keep a rare winning streak intact against a Sacramento Kings team that is at the same stage of its development curve.

D'Angelo Russell scored the decisive basket with 41 seconds remaining as the Lakers defeated the Kings 98-94 Friday.

Los Angeles (24-55) won its third straight game and earned a split of the four-game season series. Julius Randle scored 25 points and Brandon Ingram added 11 points. The Lakers shot 44.2 from the field (38-for-86).

Sacramento (31-48) had a two-game winning streak snapped, shooting 50.7 percent from the field (38-for-75). Skal Labissiere led the Kings with 19 points and Buddy Hield added 17 points.

Lakers coach Luke Walton hopes this is a positive sign in a season that was lost months ago. If the Lakers win at home against Minnesota Sunday, their four-game winning streak will be the longest in four seasons.

"I was proud of our team's effort, especially on the defensive end," Walton said. "We forced a bunch of turnovers tonight and held them under 100 points. Most teams that get eliminated from the playoffs check out but we have not done that. It's good to see."

Russell, who returned from injury, sees chemistry building from the young Los Angeles roster with a starting lineup that contained one rookie, one second-year and three third-year players with the oldest being 24 years old.

"We've come together as a team," Russell said. "We're working as a team, playing together better and playing better defense."

Like his coaching counterpart Walton, Sacramento coach Dave Joerger was happy with his team's effort but not their execution. Though Sacramento shot the ball well throughout, their carelessness with the ball throughout the game cost them a win and Joerger took the time to discuss the turnovers after the game.

"We talked about the consolation prize. We put ourselves in a game-ending situation and there are some things you can learn," Joerger said. "We're ticked about losing, we turned over the ball 23 times. Is it good for us to learn by losing? Yes but tonight it was too many turnovers, too many offensive rebounds but we are playing hard, and learned a lot tonight."

Hield agreed with his coach about lessons learned through losing and feels that like the Lakers, his young team has an opportunity to grow together.

"It's a good environment for us to play in," Hield said. "All our young guys in the game at the end and we hung together. It shows how much potential we have and it hurts not executing. I have to do a better job at the end of the game. The Lakers have a young team too and playing them going forward should be fun."

The Lakers closed with a 22-13 run in the final 6:35 with Russell's floater giving them the lead for good.

Sacramento used a hot start to lead 31-18 after one quarter, shooting 61.9 percent from the field (13-21).

Los Angeles used a 26-14 second quarter to narrow the margin to one at halftime, 45-44. Jordan Clarkson scored seven points in the quarter and was the only Laker to hit double figures (10) for the half. The Kings shot 50 percent (19-38), the Lakers shot 42.9 percent (18-42) through two quarters. Cauley-Stein led Sacramento with 12 points and Labissiere added 10 points. Lassibere's dunk at the halftime horn was ruled good after a video review to give the Kings the halftime lead.

The teams played an even third quarter as Sacramento maintained a one-point margin, 70-69. Los Angeles' Julius Randle scored 13 of his team's 25 points in the frame on six-of-seven shooting. Sacramento's sloppy offense kept the game close as its 18 turnovers led to 20 Laker points.

NOTES: Sacramento returns home for its final homestand with a pair of games against Houston on Sunday and Phoenix on Tuesday. ... Kings G Aaron Afflalo returned to the starting lineup after missing Tuesday's win against Dallas with a lower back strain. ... Sacramento is in its best stretch all-time versus the Lakers, winning nine of their last 11 matchups. ... The Lakers continue their three-game home stand against Minnesota on Sunday. ... Lakers G D'Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday's game with a sore left knee.

Updated April 8, 2017


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