SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant had mastered the art of concentration over cowbells at Arco Arena, where the upstate fans never gave him a moment's peace during the best days of the Lakers' rivalry with their Kings.
Now that their clang is pretty much gone from Arco Arena's non-sellout crowds, the Lakers' MVP guard kind of misses the noise - and in their absence, he missed far too many shots in one of the NBA's most improbable results this season.
Bobby Jackson added 15 points for the Kings, whose first victory in nine home games arrived just in time to boost coach Reggie Theus' job security. Sacramento (6-16) had lost 11 of its last 12 games overall, but Salmons and Garcia steadily increased a second-half lead against the Lakers, who couldn't rally while Bryant struggled with 9-of-25 shooting.
"I just couldn't get in a rhythm," said Bryant, who scored 28 points. "I probably missed the cowbells, just the cowbells and the food poisoning. ... The place has changed a lot. Even last year, we came in and there were a lot of Lakers fans."
Probably no opponent has hit more big shots through the cacophony of Sacramento sound than Bryant, who survived cowbells, that infamous 2002 bout of playoff food poisoning, and Doug Christie's defense to lead a series of big wins over the past decade. He once took just one shot in the first half of a game here while curiously refusing to shoot, and he might have been better off doing it again: He missed 11 of his first 13 shots against Salmons' defense.
"It's probably our biggest win of the season, especially at home, since we've been struggling," Salmons said. "Hopefully we can grow from this. This was one of those games that could turn your whole season around. We could look back at tonight's game a year from now and say, 'The Lakers game was the turning point of this season."'
Playing without injured leading scorer Kevin Martin, Sacramento took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter and scored eight straight points to go up 97-82 with 9 1/2 minutes to play. The Kings led by 17 with 6½ minutes left, increasing the lead even after Bryant returned, and Beno Udrih's layup with 3:17 left put Sacramento ahead 110-92.
"I thought it was one of the few times all year that we played 48 minutes of solid basketball all the way down to the wire, just in every category," said Theus, who's on a hot seat after Sacramento's slow start in his second season. "We know it's just one win, and we've got a long way to go, but it's a great way to get off the slide."
With a home visit from the Phoenix Suns looming on Wednesday night, the Lakers might have overlooked the lowly Kings. Pau Gasol had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who had won three straight while opening the season 17-2, matching the best start in franchise history.
Los Angeles hadn't lost to a Western Conference team this season, going 11-0. But with Lakers starters Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum and Vladimir Radmanovic shooting a combined 9-for-22, Bryant's struggles were magnified.
"We came in here thinking we were going to win, and we didn't respect our opponent," said Lamar Odom, who had just 11 points and eight rebounds. "You've got to play with a certain energy. If you don't you could lose to Westchester High School."
Brad Miller scored 13 points and Udrih added 12 for the Kings, who avoided the longest home skid in 51 years for a franchise that began life as the Rochester Royals. Sacramento hasn't sold out Arco Arena this season, and even several thousand Lakers fans couldn't fill it.
Martin missed the game with an injured left ankle after aggravating the problem during Sacramento's humiliating 33-point home loss to Denver last Wednesday. The Kings don't know when Martin will return, but he already has missed 13 games this season with ankle problems.
The Kings played with fresh legs after five days off, and Garcia scored 14 points in the first half as Sacramento took an early 11-point lead. After 2-of-9 shooting in the first half and four straight misses to open the third quarter, Bryant got going -- but Salmons also heated up with 12 points in the third quarter to keep the Kings up 87-80 heading into the fourth.
|Francisco Garcia (21 points) helps the Kings claim their first home win in nine tries. (Getty Images)|
|L.A. Lakers (17-3)||22||29||29||21||101|
|Sacramento (6-16) «||27||29||31||26||113|
|LAL:K. Bryant 28 Pts
LAL:P. Gasol 12 Reb
LAL:T. Ariza 4 Ast
|SAC:J. Salmons 21 Pts
SAC:S. Hawes 9 Reb
SAC:B. Miller 5 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|P. Gasol, C||43||9-15||7-9||12||3||2||25|
|K. Bryant, SG||38||9-25||7-7||4||3||2||28|
|D. Fisher, PG||32||3-8||1-1||3||3||3||9|
|V. Radmanovic, SF||22||2-7||2-2||3||2||3||8|
|A. Bynum, C||21||4-7||0-1||4||1||3||8|
|L. Odom, PF||27||4-7||3-4||8||2||1||11|
|T. Ariza, SF||26||2-10||0-0||6||4||3||4|
|J. Farmar, PG||16||2-7||2-2||0||1||5||8|
|S. Vujacic, SG||10||0-1||0-0||2||2||1||0|
|C. Mihm, C||2||0-0||0-0||0||1||0||0|
|J. Powell, SF||2||0-0||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|D. Mbenga, C||Did Not Play|
|L. Walton, SF||Did Not Play|
|Y. Sun, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|J. Salmons, SF||40||8-13||3-4||4||4||3||21|
|F. Garcia, SF||36||9-18||2-3||3||0||4||21|
|B. Miller, C||33||5-7||3-4||7||5||5||13|
|S. Hawes, C||33||4-13||3-4||9||3||1||11|
|B. Udrih, PG||30||5-13||2-4||6||5||4||12|
|B. Jackson, PG||18||4-7||4-4||2||1||1||15|
|J. Thompson, PF||16||2-6||0-0||8||1||3||4|
|M. Moore, PF||14||2-3||0-0||3||0||1||4|
|D. Greene, SF||12||3-5||0-0||2||1||0||7|
|B. Brown, PG||9||2-4||0-0||1||2||2||5|
|K. Thomas, PF||Did Not Play|
|K. Martin, SG||Did Not Play|
|Q. Douby, SG||Did Not Play|
|S. Williams, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|