LOS ANGELES -- For the Los Angeles Lakers, good things come in 3s.
Through their first 13 games, 30.8 percent of the Lakers’ points have come off 3-pointers, the highest percentage in the league.
“Defending the 3-point line is something that’s of importance,” Kings coach Mike Malone said when discussing the Lakers’ scouting report, “because they take so many of them and they shoot at such a high percentage.”
The Lakers’ record reflects Malone’s analysis. When the Lakers make nine or more 3-pointers, they’re 6-3. When they make eight or less, they’re 0-4.
Thus it was a bit surprising that the Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings 100-87 Sunday night -- their season-high third win in a row -- as they went just 8-of-26 from deep (30.8 percent).
Instead of living or dying by the 3, the Lakers relied on an uncommon formula for Mike D'Antoni-led squads: defense.
The Lakers used their defensive activity in the passing lanes (eight steals) and in the paint (nine blocks) to propel their fast-break attack (20 points) and make up for their subpar outside shooting. The Kings' offense became anemic -- they shot 41.7 percent from the field -- and the purple and gold coasted to a much-needed victory.
How it happened: Led by Pau Gasol’s inside touch and Steve Blake’s all-around performance, the Lakers took a convincing seven-point lead into halftime. After the Kings made their first three field goals to cut the deficit to just two points, the Lakers held them to six points on 2-for-17 shooting (11.8 percent) over the rest of the third quarter. From there, the Lakers extended their lead to as many as 18 points before ultimately winning by 14.
What it means: The Lakers have won three games in a row for the first time this season and, more importantly, four of their past six games to return to .500 (7-7). With a vital three-game road trip coming up, the Lakers can improve on their poor 1-4 road record.
Hits: Blake messed around and nearly had a triple double, scoring nine points, grabbing five rebounds (all in the first half) and dishing out 12 assists.
Gasol continued his impressive string of performances with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Xavier Henry returned to early-season form, scoring 21 points by getting out in transition and drawing fouls (5-of-6 from the charity stripe).
Misses: Greivis Vasquez (20 points, seven assists) scored a season-high and gave the Lakers trouble out of pick-and-rolls.
Stat of the game: The Lakers held the Kings to just 86 points, the fewest they’ve allowed this season. L.A. has now held five of their past six opponents to under 100 points.
Up next: The Lakers embark on a three-game road trip through Washington (5-8), Brooklyn (3-10) and Detroit (5-8). With all three teams playing sub-.500 basketball, the Lakers have a legitimate chance to finish their road trip with an above .500 record and in the playoff hunt.