Walton back in L.A. as hot Kings take on Lakers

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After a rocky start, the Sacramento Kings have been on a mini roll. Kings coach Luke Walton would love for it to continue Friday night when he and his team visit the Los Angeles Lakers.

Walton will be facing his former club for the first time since they “mutually” parted ways after last season. Walton, who spent three campaigns with the Lakers as head coach after playing for the team, compiled a 98-148 record before his departure.

After losing its initial five contests, Sacramento has won four of five, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 107-99 on Tuesday. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 25 points and recorded 10 assists for the Kings. Buddy Hield scored 20 points, and Nemanja Bjelica contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds.

“Just digging in and just grinding and everybody believing in each other,” said Hield, who is averaging a team-best 18.3 points. “My teammates had my back when I wasn’t making shots in the first quarter. (Bogdanovic) started off well. Everybody is staying together as a group and just connecting with each other and supporting each other, and guarding, too.”

The Kings prevailed despite playing without point guard De’Aaron Fox, who sustained a severe left ankle sprain in practice earlier this week. Fox, who is averaging 18.2 points, seven assists and four rebounds, will be re-evaluated in three to four weeks, the club said.

“We’re all professionals; next man up,” Hield said of playing without Fox. “We have to find a way to win. No excuse. This is the NBA. No one is going to feel sorry for you.”

Sacramento center Marvin Bagley III has been out since opening night with a broken thumb, and he isn’t expected back for another month.

The Lakers are dealing with their own injury issues, with leading scorer Anthony Davis sitting out Wednesday as Los Angeles posted a 120-94 win over the visiting Golden State Warriors. Davis has played through a shoulder injury for much of season. He was hit in the ribs Tuesday during a road victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Davis’ status for the Kings game was unknown.

LeBron James led the Lakers on Wednesday in Davis’ absence, scoring 23 points, handing out 12 assists and grabbing six rebounds in the rout of the Warriors.

Los Angeles, a winner of nine of its past 10 contests, also got major contributions from its two centers. JaVale McGee finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and three steals, and Dwight Howard had 15 points and eight boards off the bench.

Kyle Kuzma, who started in Davis’ place, scored 22 points.

The Lakers have recorded 30 or more assists in four consecutive contests, including a season-high 39 against the Suns.

“When that happens, with the type of firepower that we have on this team, the game becomes easy,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “And I really believe that if we commit to that mindset of sharing the basketball, truly sharing the basketball every time down, and we commit to the defensive end of the court, we’re going to reach our goals and we’ll have a terrific season.”

–Field Level Media

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