Coming into Wednesday night's season finale, both the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers were extremely shorthanded. The Lakers had eight healthy players, while the Kings had only nine available bodies.
Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson was held out of this one after suffering an ankle sprain Monday night in Sacramento. Omri Casspi, who led the Kings with 26 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in Monday's win, sat out due to an illness.
With all the injuries, the Lakers had no backcourt reserves, forcing Byron Scott to stick with newly acquired Vander Blue and rookie Jabari Brown for the entire 48 minutes.
It seemed like injuries hurt the Lakers far more in this game, as the Kings cruised their way to victory.
Sacramento started their domination right from the first quarter, pulling ahead by 13 midway through and ending with a 10-point lead heading to the second period.
Carried by Ben McLemore's 16 points, the Kings held a 14-point lead by halftime. Jordan Hill and Vander Blue led the way for the Lakers with 12 apiece.
The thrashing continued in the second half, as the Kings expanded their lead to 19. However, rookie Jabari Brown singlehandedly tried to bring the Lakers back into the game, scoring 10 straight points late in the third to cut Sacramento's lead to 11.
In fact, Brown scored 19 in the thrid, but the Kings remained in control, taking a 19-point advantage to the final quarter.
Sacramento cruised its way to an easy 122-99 victory, closing their season with back-to-back victories against the Lakers.
Jabari Brown, who only had three points at the half, ended the game with a career-high 32 points in 48 minutes to lead L.A.
"I had a really bad first half. I just had to regroup and just try to take good shots so I was able to get to the line. I think that kind of got me going," Brown said after the loss.
Brown put in 29 points all in the second half, going 8 of 11 from the field and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line.
"I just slowed down. I think I was moving too fast [in the first half]," Brown said when asked what changed for him in the second half. "[I] tried to make better decisions, I got to the line, which helped me get my groove."
Newly signed D-League guard Vander Blue played all 48 minutes as well and logged 15 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds but shot 6 of 23 from the field. This was obviously an enormous experience for the young man but unfortunately, it was just two games.
Ben McLemore led the Kings with 24 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Derrick Williams poured in 22 points off the pine and added a couple of highlight reel dunks. All Kings starters scored in double-figures, as they shot 54.8 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from behind the arc as a team.
On the other end, the Lakers only shot 38.3 percent from the floor and 29.2 percent from three-point distance.
The long, miserable season is finally over for the Los Angeles Lakers. With this loss, they dropped to 21-61 which is the worst winning percentage in franchise history. There really weren't many positives this season, but Coach Byron Scott found a couple.
"The positive is that we found a young player who can be really good. Jordan [Clarkson] is a big positive," Scott said. "The young man got an opportunity to play. He played extremely well. He got better and better each week.
"Tarik [Black] had great moments as well this season. We had some young guys that developed pretty nicely and we will just have to continue to work with these guys and get them better," Scott added.
Clarkson and Black certainly made the most of their minutes, but the Lakers were hit hard by injuries right from the beginning, to the point where they had very limited talent to compete, thus ending with the fourth worst record in the league.
Simply put, it was a season to forget for Laker fans, and they are happy that it is over.