LOS ANGELES (AP) - The only drama left in this miserable season for the Los Angeles Lakers involves whether Kobe Bryant will return from injury, and if they can avoid finishing last in the Western Conference.
Jordan Farmar scored a career-high 30 points off the bench, making eight of 10 shots from 3-point range, and the Lakers capitalized on the absence of suspended Sacramento star DeMarcus Cousins to beat the Kings 126-122 Friday night.
“It was just the flow of the game,” Farmar said. “I was aggressive, took shots when they were available, and I was fortunate to knock them down.”
The Lakers (20-39) must go 11-12 the rest of the way to avoid tying the 1974-75 squad for the worst record in a regulation season since the franchise relocated from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960-61.
“When we win it’s fun,” said coach Mike D'Antoni, whose team is one of seven that has lost 20 or more games by double-digit margins. “These guys need a little sugar once in a while, and this was sugar. We’ve been having problems, but tonight they came through and I’m really happy for them.”
Newly acquired reserve MarShon Brooks scored 23 points - two more than the combined total of the Sacramento bench. Pau Gasol added 22 and Jodie Meeks also had 22 after making all eight of his shots, including three of the Lakers‘ franchise-record 19 3-pointers on 27 attempts.
“He looked like he really hit his rhythm with his 3s,” D'Antoni said. “Obviously, he can’t go 8 for 8 every night, but he’s playing really well. And what he’s doing now is adding his drive to the game. He’s been strong to the basket, so they don’t knock him off. And now it’s hard to guard him.”
The Lakers shot 60 percent in a matchup of teams with the two worst records in the West. They have won the first three meetings against the Kings this season, with one remaining on April 2 at Sacramento. Los Angeles is a game behind the Kings in the conference standings and 1½ behind Utah.
Rudy Gay scored 32 points for the Kings, who squandered a 12-point lead before halftime and then blew a 15-point lead in the second half despite converting 17 Lakers turnovers into 25 points. Derrick Williams and Isaiah Thomas each had 27 points.
“We kept fighting and kept playing,” Farmar said. “We know they’re a team that will let you back in the game. And the way we play, if we make shots, we’ll have a chance to stay competitive. But it was really our defense. I mean, we gave up 120 points, and that’s too many. But we still got some stops when we needed it the most.”
Brooks helped keep Sacramento at bay with seven points in the final 4:27, after Farmar connected twice from behind the arc in a 43-second span to help fuel a 12-2 spurt that turned a six-point deficit into a 111-107 lead with 7:08 to play.
First-year Kings coach Michael Malone used his 14th different starting lineup, with Williams making his first start since Feb. 2 and power forward Jason Thompson shifting to center in Cousins’ spot.
Cousins, averaging a team-high 22.3 points, received a one-game ban from the NBA on Thursday for punching Houston guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach during the Kings' 129-103 home loss Tuesday night.
“He’s definitely a big part of our team,” Malone said. “Whether DeMarcus plays or he doesn’t, I don’t care who’s in uniform for us, tonight’s defense was unacceptable. We allowed the Lakers to get whatever they wanted and they shot lights out. I’m embarrassed by our defensive effort, but I knew that we would be able to get whatever we wanted on offense - because they don’t defend, either.”
Suspensions are nothing new to Cousins, who received three of them last season alone.