SACRAMENTO, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and the Kings blew all of a 27-point lead in the second half before beating the Los Angeles Lakers 118-115 on Thursday night in Kobe Bryant‘s last Sacramento appearance.
Although the Kings were ahead 25-4 five minutes into the game, they needed a late rally and a go-ahead basket from Rajon Rondo to spoil the night for the 37-year-old Bryant, who thrilled the partisan crowd with 28 points.
Bryant made 10 of 18 shots and was 6 for 8 on free throws. But he was on the bench for the night by the time the Lakers made a huge comeback to take the lead down the stretch.
Rookie D’Angelo Russell scored 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter before having to leave with an ankle injury for the Lakers, who have dropped five straight games to the Kings and have the NBA’s second-worst record behind Philadelphia.
Lou Williams had 20 points for the Lakers and Jordan Clarkson had 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Rudy Gay scored 18 points and Quincy Acy had a season-high 18 for the Kings. Ben McLemore had 16 points and Kosta Koufos added 14. Rajon Rondo had nine points and 12 assists.
Judging by the large number of fans wearing his jersey and the roar that greeted him during a long pregame introduction, it was clear that many in the sellout crowd of 17,386 were on hand for one reason: to honour Bryant’s 33rd and final game at Sleep Train Arena.
Bryant, who missed the previous three games with a sore right shoulder, had his first shot barely hit the rim and his next one was an airball on a 3. However, he scored seven points in the first quarter and added 11 more in the second on a couple of vintage baskets in traffic, plus an alley-oop dunk.
Rondo made a floater in the lane with 21.7 seconds left, giving the Kings a 116-115 lead. Clarkson lost the ball on a dribble drive and fouled Cousins, who made two free throws for a three-point lead with 6.8 seconds left.
Williams missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds and Acy secured the rebound.
The Lakers trailed by 16 points heading into the fourth quarter when they outscored Sacramento 29-16.
With Bryant on the bench the entire fourth quarter, Russell and Clarkson brought the Lakers back. The two combined for 14 points to cut the Kings’ lead to four points at the 7:17 mark. Russell made a 3-pointer and Clarkson followed with a basket, giving Los Angeles a 109-108 lead with 3:49 left.
Lakers: Bryant’s first game in Sacramento was Dec. 10, 1996, his rookie season. . The youthful Lakers have three rookies and two first-year players. . Former Kings forward Metta World Peace was not in uniform but was at the game.
Kings: Actor Jamie Foxx sat courtside next to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive. . The Lakers traded Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to the 17-year-old Bryant in 1996. Divac is now the Kings’ general manager. . Omri Casspi missed his third straight game with back problems and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein (finger laceration) missed his second straight.
Lakers: Host Oklahoma City on Friday.
Kings: Host Golden State on Saturday.