KINGS PUSH LAKERS AGAIN L.A. BEATS SACRAMENTO, PLAYOFF SERIES COULD BE BIG CHALLENGE LAKERS 121, SACRAMENTO 114.
Byline: Howard Beck Staff Writer
At some later date, perhaps in another week or so, the wisdom of the Lakers' strategy Friday night might be called into question. They willfully willfully adv. referring to doing something intentionally, purposefully and stubbornly. Examples: "He drove the car willfully into the crowd on the sidewalk." "She willfully left the dangerous substances on the property." (See: willful) , deliberately, beat the Sacramento Kings - and in doing so, might have set themselves up for a positively exhausting first-round playoff series.
With a 121-114 victory at Staples Center This article
* Its neutrality is disputed.
* It may contain original research or unverifiable claims.
* It does not cite any references or sources. , the Lakers prevented the seventh-seeded Kings from gaining a game on the eighth-seeded has multiple issues:Seattle SuperSonics The Seattle SuperSonics (or simply Sonics) are an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington. They play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Their mascot's name is Squatch. , who earlier lost to Dallas. Whoever finishes eighth gets a first-round meeting with the Lakers.
So if it's the Kings, the Lakers will have only themselves to blame for orchestrating the matchup with their toughest possible first-round opponent.
``They're never an easy team for us,'' said Glen Rice Glen Anthony Rice (born May 28 1967, in Flint where he played for Flint Northwestern High School, Michigan) is a retired American NBA basketball player. Rice was a three-time NBA All-Star small forward well known for his pinpoint shooting accuracy, ranking 4th in NBA history with after the Lakers overcame a 15-point deficit to get the win. ``They've got a lot of weapons on their team. They've got big guys that can run the floor very well. I just think that if we can ever come out and put a first quarter together like we know we're capable of doing, we can put this team away early.''
Though the Lakers won the season series 3-1, they often seem incapable of putting the Kings away at all.
Friday's game was just another testament to that, as Chris Webber For the Canadian-born former BBL basketball player, see .
Mayce Edward Christopher Webber III, better known as Chris Webber or C-Webb (born March 1, 1973, in Detroit, Michigan), is an American professional basketball player for the Detroit Pistons of the NBA.. ran wild for 36 points and 10 rebounds, joined in the attack by Nick Anderson For the editorial cartoonist, see .
Nelison "Nick" Anderson (born January 20, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois) is a retired American basketball player.
He spent thirteen years in the NBA (beginning in 1989), most of them with the Orlando Magic. (22 points) and Peja Stojakovic (20 points).
It took a monstrous, 41-point night from Shaquille O'Neal Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (pronounced "shak-KEEL") (born March 6, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey), frequently referred to simply as Shaq, is an American professional basketball player, generally regarded as one of the most dominant in the National Basketball Association (NBA). to avoid a deflating loss. O'Neal, playing his first game in more than a week after resting a sprained ankle A sprained ankle, also known as a ankle sprain, ankle injury or ankle ligament injury, is a common medical condition where one or more of the ligaments of the ankle is torn or partially torn. , made 16 of 29 field goals and 9 of 15 free throws to go with 16 rebounds.
He showed few signs of rust and only looked tired late in his 45-minute run.
Kobe Bryant Kobe Bean Bryant (born July 23 1978 added 31 points and Rice had his second straight big game - 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting. ) is an American All-Star shooting guard in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
``We did some good things,'' said coach Phil Jackson
Philip Douglas "Phil" Jackson (born September 17, 1945 in Deer Lodge, Montana) is the current coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, an American professional basketball team. , who has called the Kings a ``befuddling'' team for the Lakers. ``I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. if we learned enough about this team to feel like we're confident that we can master what it takes to win a series or not. I think the players feel confident, but I don't.''
``We showed the effects of being off two days and not having practice,'' Jackson added.
The Lakers trailed for almost the entire first half and by seven points at halftime but used a 37-point third quarter to take the game back. Rice hit 6 of 7 shots in the quarter and 3 of 4 from 3-point range, for 15 points, and Bryant added 14, also on 6 of 7 shooting.
But they couldn't put the Kings away, even after taking a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Stojakovic and Webber led the charge as the Kings cut the lead to 111-108 with 3:24 remaining.
But Bryant hit a pair of free throws and a fadeaway fade·a·way
1. The act or an instance of gradually diminishing in brightness, loudness, or strength until actual disappearance occurs.
a. A screwball.
b. jumper that bounced up and in as the Lakers pulled away again. Rice and Bryant combined for six free throws down the stretch to put it away. The Lakers, who already had clinched the league's best record, improved to 65-13, with three games left to play.
By next weekend, like it or not, they could be welcoming the Kings back to L.A.
``They just play a loosey-goosey style,'' O'Neal said. ``They hit a lot of shots, draw and kick, and they always come out to a fast start. But we always find a way to get back into the game.''
Having weathered Bryant's one-game suspension, Harper's one-game rest and O'Neal's two-game respite, the Lakers trotted out their regular starting five for the first time in five games. But they nevertheless fell to a 65-57 halftime deficit.
The Kings made 58.7 percent of their shots in possibly the worst defensive half of the season for the Lakers. The 65 points scored by the Kings was one point shy of the most allowed by the Lakers in a half this season. Sacramento's 39-point first quarter was the most scored by a Laker opponent in any quarter this season.
``We showed the effects of being off two days and not having practice,'' said Jackson. ``I thought our third quarter, we redeemed ourselves.''
Photo: (color) Shaquille O'Neal of the Lakers peers around Chris Webber of the Sacramento Kings while trying to figure out just what to do with the basketball. O'Neal had 41 points as the Lakers beat the Kings, 121-114.
Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press
Chart: GAME RECAP