Lakers try for rare winning streak versus Kings
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The Los Angeles Lakers will try to win two straight games for the first time in a month when they host the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
The Lakers (12-27) ended a nine-game losing streak with a 132-113 victory Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Hawks, the only NBA team with a worst record than the Lakers.
"People are in better moods when you win," Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after practice Monday. "It was nice to get that off our backs."
Walton has been forced to answer questions this week regarding comments made by Lavar Ball, the father of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who claimed Walton had lost the support of his players and "nobody wants to play for him."
Lonzo Ball has remained neutral on the matter, but Lakers rookie forward Kyle Kuzma, the team's leading scorer at 17.1 points, voiced his support Monday.
"Luke is my guy. I love playing for him," Kuzma said. "We've just got to stay looked in as a family and listen to the people that matter in our basketball lives."
The Kings (13-26) played Monday night against the visiting San Antonio Spurs and lost 107-100 to close a six-game homestand with a 2-4 mark.
Sacramento was leading by five points with four minutes left, but lost the lead on back-to-back 3-pointers sandwiched around a turnover. Rookie point guard De'Aaron Fox made three turnovers in the final 2:01 to prevent a comeback.
Sacramento forward Willie Cauley-Stein told NBC Sports California after the loss that the Kings will study the final minutes against the Spurs to avoid similar collapses.
"We were there," Cauley-Stein said. "That's frustrating, because it felt like we should have won it. We were winning it for three quarters. Last five minutes can kill you."
Fox finished with 11 points and 10 assists for the first double-double of his career.
The Kings had leading scorer and rebounder Zach Randolph back in the starting lineup against the Spurs after he missed Saturday's victory against the Denver Nuggets following oral surgery, but was held to nine points and seven rebounds.
The matchup between Fox and Ball was highly anticipated when these teams met Nov. 22 in a 113-102 victory by the Kings in Sacramento. The matchup should draw similar attention the second time around.
Fox scored 39 points for Kentucky in the Sweet 16 last March, and Ball was held to 10 as the Wildcats knocked off UCLA.
In their first matchup in the NBA, Fox had 13 points, three assists and five turnovers. Ball finished with 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and three turnovers.
The Lakers were the team playing the second half of back-to-back games that night
Los Angeles is in the midst of even tougher grind now. The Lakers haven't had two straight days between games since mid-December, and won't have such a gap until after they host the Boston Celtics on Jan. 23, a span of 20 contests.
"Where our schedule is at right now, we're not going to be able to do a ton of high-intensity work with games every other day for the entire month," Walton said.
Updated January 9, 2018