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Lakers' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope nets season-high 34 points in win over Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Feeling healthy and free of the legal burden that resulted in a 25-day sentence for a probation violation earlier this season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tied his career-high with eight 3-pointers made in a game and nearly became only the second Los Angeles Lakers player to make nine in a game.

Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 34 points, grabbed seven rebounds and hit 8-of-14 3-pointers in a 113-108 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Caldwell-Pope became the eighth Lakers player to hit 8 triples in a game. Kobe Bryant is the only Laker to make more than eight, sinking nine 3's on three different occasions and a franchise-record 12 in another game in 2007.

"I should've tried to shoot another one," Caldwell-Pope cracked when told that only Bryant has made nine or more 3's in franchise history.

Caldwell-Pope -- who signed a one-year, $18-million deal with the Lakers in free agency -- is playing his best basketball as a Laker and the guard admits that he can play with a clear mind after serving a 25-day sentence for a probation violation that stemmed from his March arrest for suspicion of DUI in Michigan.

Caldwell-Pope was allowed to play in home games and practice during the sentence which he served at the Seal Beach Police Department Detention Center. And while Caldwell-Pope completed that sentence in early January -- he missed four games outside of the state of California -- it has taken the guard a little bit of time to hit his stride with the Lakers.

Mentally, he was feeling the weight of his legal problems. Once that was behind him, Caldwell-Pope averaged 16.8 points during a five-game stretch before he injured his Achilles in a game at Oklahoma City on Jan. 17. His play was inconsistent upon his return from the injury, which sidelined him for two games.

But in his last six games, Caldwell-Pope is averaging 17.6 points and 7.5 rebounds while sinking 20-of-37 (54%) from behind the 3-point arc.

"I mean it was kind of hard with that situation I had but now that's behind me," Caldwell-Pope said. "I can focus on just one thing, that's basketball. It's been good just to be able to get my work when I need it and just be ready for games."

Lakers coach Luke Walton said Caldwell-Pope's routine of putting in extra work in the gym was interrupted by the 25-day sentence which took its toll on his game and mind. Then the Achilles injury had him spending time in the training room and it hasn't been until recently that Caldwell-Pope has been able to get back to working on his game like he is accustomed to.

The guard, who has made two or more 3-pointers in five of his last six games, drilled 3-of-4 triples in the first quarter. He was red hot in the third quarter when he buried 5-of-8 from behind the arc and scored 17 points to help the Lakers erase a 10-point deficit with a 33-16 run that gave them a seven-point lead late in the quarter.

"He's had a tough run," Walton said of why Caldwell-Pope has been in a groove for the last six games. "I thought he was playing really well early in the season and then had to deal with some legal stuff which is tough for anyone. And then when he came back after that he was great. He was shooting the ball well, scoring and then he got hurt. And he has had to find his rhythm again."

"Give him credit, he has done a really nice job of putting in extra work too," Walton added. "We are such a better team when he is feeling confident and that shot is going for him... Unfortunately what he has gone through, whether the injury or legal stuff, it wasn't always him being able to get that work in. Now that he is coming back from this injury, he is getting there and getting shots in every day before practice and getting into a really nice rhythm of playing basketball."

Caldwell-Pope did foul Bogdan Bogdanovic to allow a rare four-point play that allowed the Kings to cut the Lakers' lead to 109-108 with 12.7 seconds left. But former Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (17 points) sealed the game with six free throws in the quarter to help the Lakers survive without rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who was held out of the second of a back-to-back set after just returning from a 15-game absence with a sprained left MCL injury.

Caldwell-Pope hopes to remain hot and continue to show the Lakers what he can do when he is healthy and playing with a clear mind.

"It kind of takes you out of a rhythm," Caldwell-Pope said of the injury and legal issue. "You've got the same rhythm every day just to keep you going. So once that rhythm is broken, it's kind of hard to get back with it when you got a lot of things going on."

"I built my career in the league playing defense and making shots," Caldwell-Pope added. "And also making plays when I needed to. That's kind of my game and how I built my career."