The much-hyped duel between rookie point guards did not serve as the main attraction.
Willie Cauley-Stein scored a season-high 26 points as the Kings ended a two-game skid with a 113-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.
Zach Randolph had a season-high 22 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists for the Kings (5-13), who shot a season-high 55.3 percent.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers (8-11) with 20 points. Kyle Kuzma scored 17 points.
There was a lot of attention on the team’s top picks from June’s draft, but neither stood out Wednesday. The Lakers’ Lonzo Ball had 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. The Kings’ De’Aaron Fox had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
A rookie point guard stands out
This game was supposed to be about Fox and Ball, but the rookie point guard who looked the steadiest was Frank Mason III. He continued his solid play since being put into the rotation, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and a season-high seven assists.
As the Kings were putting the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, it was Fox who was on the bench as Mason went against Ball.
Mason rarely looked rattled in college. That hasn’t changed now that he’s playing more for the Kings.
The lane remains open too often
It didn’t cost the Kings on Wednesday night, but more times than not the Kings will be hurt by allowing a team as many good looks in the paint as they did against the Lakers.
Los Angeles got back into the game in the third quarter because of breakdowns in the middle, but the Kings were able to regain control of the game.
The Kings aren’t a good shooting team and won’t shoot that well most nights, so they’ll have to continue to emphasize better on-ball defense and rim protection.
Second line of offense
Cauley-Stein has scored in double figures in three of his four games off the bench. Four games isn’t enough to put Cauley-Stein in the running for Sixth Man of the Year, but it might be the role he’s best suited for on this team.
It’ll take a lot longer to prove he can be a reliable scorer, but, for now, it’s working. It might continue working if teams continue to dare Cauley-Stein to be a scorer by putting smaller defenders on him as the Lakers did.