It's been three long years since the Kings beat the Lakers in Sacramento, and it's been nine years since the Lakers opened the season with two straight losses. Both of those streaks came to an end Monday night, as the Kings upset their in-state rivals, 100-91.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 29 points, dishing out a game-high six assists for good measure, but it wasn't enough. The Kings slowly but surely built a 14-point advantage through the first three quarters, providing enough of a cushion to survive the Lakers' fourth-quarter rally. The Mike Brown era is off to the rocky start: on the heels of the Lakers' Christmas Day loss to the Bulls, Los Angeles is 0-2 for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
Marcus Thornton came through when it counted for the Kings, scoring 12 of his 27 points in the final frame. Tyreke Evans adding 20 points, drawing contact and getting to the charity stripe 12 times. DeMarcus Cousins battled foul trouble but still managed a double-double, pulling down 11 boards to go with 12 points in just 25 minutes. He scored eight of his points in the final few minutes of the third quarter, helping pad the Kings' lead.
Rookie Jimmer Fredette may want to forget his first NBA possession: he was whistled for a double-dribble the first time he touched the ball. His nerves eventually settled, though, as he finished with eight points (3-8 shooting) and three assists in nearly 26 minutes.
One night after scoring just four points, Metta World Peace scored 19 points with four rebound and four assists in 29 minutes for the Lakers. Newcomer Josh McRoberts struggled, however, scoring just two points while missing both of his field-goal attempts in nearly 21 minutes as a starter.
Derek Fisher also continued his slow start, following his two-point game against the Bulls with just six points (3-10 shooting) against the Kings. More than most players, Fisher may need time to play himself into shape: as president of the players' union, he spent most of his summer working on the new collective bargaining agreement instead of his game, and he played in only one of the Lakers' two preseason games.
In the grand scheme of things, a two-game losing streak -- even with this year's shortened schedule -- is only notable at the beginning of the year, but it's still been a long time since the Lakers have gone home happy. If you include this year's preseason and last year's playoff sweep, they've now lost eight in a row. For better or worse, the Lakers have little time to dwell on their losing ways, as they play their third game in three nights when they host the Jazz on Tuesday.