LOS ANGELES (AP) — Xavier Henry had another one of those solid games that Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni wishes he could get from his guard on a consistent basis.
Henry scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings 100-86 Sunday night.
“I haven’t played as well these last few games, but I know I can still bring defensive intensity,” Henry said. “So I just came out and played the same game, but I just was just a little more aggressive.”
Steve Blake finished with 12 assists, nine points and five rebounds. The 11-year veteran, who has started all 14 games for the Lakers at point guard in place of the injured Steve Nash, has recorded double digits in assists in each of the last five.
“There’s nothing better than being out there and setting guys up for shots,” Blake said. “Coach gives me the freedom to do that, and the offense lets you as a point guard create for people. So I’m just loving it.”
The Lakers, back at .500 following their third straight victory, began a stretch of four consecutive games against teams with losing records (Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit).
Greivis Vasquez led Sacramento with 20 points and DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Reserve guard Isaiah Thomas finished with nine points in 30 minutes and was 4 for 11 from the field, ending his string of double-digit games at 12.
“We played everybody they had out there and didn’t focus on one person,” Henry said. “We just had a simple game plan for each and every possession they had. We just played hard and showed energy, and that’s the best thing you can do. When you do that, everything will work itself out.”
Lakers forward Wesley Johnson turned in perhaps the defensive play of the game less than 4 1/2 minutes in when he when he hustled up court and executed a spectacular chase-down block of Luc Mbah a Moute’s fast-break layup.
“I don’t believe in stopping on any play because you never know what’s going to happen,” Johnson said, “I just didn’t want to quit on the play. … I wanted to bring the energy that we needed on the defensive end to set the tone from the very beginning.”
The Kings played at Staples Center for the second straight day after erasing a 20-point deficit against the Clippers and losing 103-102. They spotted the Lakers a 13-point lead in the second quarter before cutting the deficit to 55-52 with consecutive dunks by Cousins and No.1 draft pick Ben McLemore 42 seconds apart early in the third.
But the Lakers maintained the lead the rest of the way, breaking it open with a 13-5 run that put them up 86-69 with 6:57 to play.
Vasquez connected on his first six shots, four of them during a 1:37 span, but Los Angeles still led 29-24 after one quarter against a team that came in averaging the fewest first-quarter points in the league (22.6).
“The one concern we had coming into the game was their ability to shoot the ball,” rookie coach Michael Malone said. “But 14 turnovers, and them outscoring us 22-11 on fast breaks really hurt. And they scored 46 points in the paint.”
The Kings are 3-4 since Malone inserted McLemore and Jason Thompson into the starting lineup in place of shooting guard Marcus Thornton and forward Patrick Patterson, following the team’s 1-5 start without the injured Carl Landry. Landry is expected to be sidelined three to four months because of torn flexor muscle in his left hip, which required surgery on Oct. 15.
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