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LeBron James hopes there’s a tribute for Kobe at every road game

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Lesbron James hope

On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Lakers played their first road game since the late Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash, along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

The Sacramento Kings put on a moving tribute for Bryant and Gianna, and following the game LeBron James spoke of how he hopes a tribute happens at every road game. The Lakers defeated the Kings 129-113 to erase a two-game skid.

“We’re prepared for it. We understand it,” James said, per Spectrum SportsNet. “We hope it happens every night just because of the legacy that he’s left behind. But we’re prepared for it as a team, as an organization, and we’re going to continue to get through it.”

The tribute consisted of clips of Bryant playing the Kings and some shots of Gianna playing basketball. The video was filled with respect and admiration for Bryant, who played against the Kings in three consecutive playoff series from 2000-2002.

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During the 2002 Western Conference Finals, the Lakers defeated the Kings in seven games, and Bryant averaged 27.1 points per game and 6.3 rebounds.

The Lakers and the rest of the NBA are mourning the loss of one of the game’s greats. Not only was Bryant a stellar basketball player, but he was a motivator who inspired so many people to be their best selves.

Los Angeles will play the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on Tuesday.


LeBron James, Anthony Davis Lead Balanced Attack as Lakers Defeat Kings

Lesbron James

The Los Angeles Lakers picked up their second victory of the season against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, winning 129-113 at Golden 1 Center.

LeBron James and Co. finished the second half of their back-to-back strong after falling to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday behind a 48-point performance from Damian Lillard. L.A. had hit a rough stretch, going 3-4 in its last seven games heading into February.

The Kings were the perfect antidote. At 18-31 on the year, Sacramento has struggled to find an identity as Marvin Bagley III sits with a foot sprain and guard Buddy Hield remains streaky behind the arc. The Kings have instead been the focus of myriad trade rumors.

Attempts to pry forward Kyle Kuzma from Los Angeles have been unsuccessful with Sacramento unwilling to move Bogdan Bogdanovic, per Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, but as the February 6 trade deadline looms, teams have been evaluating all pieces on the Kings roster.

Notable Performers

LeBron James, SF, Lakers: 15 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds
Anthony Davis, PF, Lakers: 21 points, six assists, four rebounds
De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kings: 24 points, six rebounds, five assists
Buddy Hield, SG, Kings: 22 points, four rebounds, two assists

Lakers Speed Up Offense in Victory

The Kings boast one of the league’s fastest players in De’Aaron Fox, which usually makes pushing the tempo against him a fool’s errand. The Lakers pushed that notion to the brink Saturday, using a 21-3 first-quarter run to set the pace.

The result: 81 points in the first half—a season high for Los Angeles. Seven Lakers finished in double figures—including bench contributors Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso. Avery Bradley had one of his most efficient nights of the year with 19 points on 13 field-goal attempts, while James flexed every part of his game in the 92nd triple-double of his career.

There were still pitfalls, though Los Angeles gave up 42 points in a second quarter that gave head coach Frank Vogel plenty to go over with his team in the next film session. On the whole, the uptempo style was too much for a Sacramento club just trying to find ways to win, let alone do so at different speeds.

Throughout the year, Los Angeles’ pace has been rather ordinary, averaging 100.7 possessions per 48 minutes (13th in the NBA). Even after slowing things down in the second half against the Kings, L.A. still finished with 101 possessions in 48 minutes.

If Saturday was a night for the Kings to show off players the Lakers may want to acquire before Thursday’s trade deadline, Los Angeles proved it doesn’t need any of them.


Hield Shines off Bench

It’s barely been a week since Kings head coach Luke Walton banished Hield to the bench, and the guard has done everything possible to prove he’s worthy of starting again.

After posting games of 21, 42, 13 and 19 points as a reserve, Hield was back at it Saturday with 22 points as his rotation replacement, Bogdanovic, worked to hang on to his opportunity with eight. Maybe this was the point of Walton’s experiment. The coach was adamant that Hield wasn’t being punished when he moved him to the bench, per Jason Jones of The Athletic—even if his player had no choice but to take it personally.

Lesbron James jump

Hield told Jones after coming off the bench for the first time since 2017-2018:

“They don’t start you and after that everybody says, ‘Oh, he’s the problem. You just let everybody know what the f–k is going on. That’s what I’ve been doing and God he knows what I’m doing, I know what I’m capable of doing.

“Nobody was saying that when we had a 12-14 record, it was, ‘He’s carrying the team,’ stuff like that. When we start losing, it’s a big problem. It is what it is, I’ve just got to stay confident, stay locked in and be ready and professional. That’s what it is, man. If I’m happy or not happy, I’m not going to show it out on the court. I’m going to go out and play my minutes.”

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No one is calling Hield the problem, but the Kings still aren’t winning. Granted, a rebuilding team is rarely going to have a shot against the odds-on favorite to win the NBA title, yet it’s clear Hield deserves his starting spot back. He played 30 minutes against the Lakers compared to Bogdanovic’s 28. One player looked like a starter Saturday. And it wasn’t the guy getting the fancy introduction before the game.

What’s Next

The Lakers will get two days off before appearing on national TV twice next week—both on TNT. On Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs visit the Staples Center, and the Houston Rockets will be right behind them Thursday. While the Spurs aren’t expected to challenge the Lakers any more than the Kings did, Los Angeles will face a fellow Western Conference contender in Houston.

Sacramento, meanwhile, will stay put a bit longer with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat and Spurs all coming to town. The Wolves present one of the best chances for the Kings to pick up a victory, as they’ve lost 11 in a row after falling to the Clippers on Saturday afternoon.

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