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Los Angeles at Sacramento

Lakers rout Kings, move within half-game for best record in league

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- This fourth-quarter performance left the Los Angeles Lakers in a joking mood instead of a steamed one.

One game after nearly blowing a big lead to a lowly opponent, the Lakers had no problems closing out the NBA-worst Sacramento Kings in a 122-104 victory Tuesday night that moved them within a half-game of Cleveland for the best record in the NBA.

The fourth quarter was so relaxed that starters Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Trevor Ariza didn't have to play at all. The only memorable play was Sasha Vujacic's emphatic dunk over Cedric Simmons and Francisco Garcia in the closing minutes.

"I've seen it all. Sasha dunked on somebody. I'm ready to retire now," Bryant said. "We played better, closed the game out. The stars didn't have to get off the bench to go back in. The reserves did a great job."

That was a far cry from Sunday's 88-85 victory over Clippers in which the Lakers blew most of a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter. That left coach Phil Jackson so angry he didn't take questions from reporters after the game.

He was in a much better mood this night after watching his team survive a torrid shooting start by the Kings and an early 12-point deficit to avenge a surprising loss earlier this season to the Kings at Arco Arena.

He was even able to joke about Vujacic's dunk, as well as the ill-timed turnover the next trip down the court.

"I told him the dunk was great but the behind the back pass on the next play made me reach for a substitute," Jackson said.

Pau Gasol led the way for Los Angeles with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Bryant added 22 points, Lamar Odom had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Ariza scored 14. The Lakers have won four straight since losing back-to-back games in Charlotte and Atlanta.

Losing again to Sacramento could have seriously damaged the Lakers' hopes for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Los Angeles (62-16) still needs the Cavaliers (62-15) to lose at least once down the stretch to win the race. The Lakers hold the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the season series against Cleveland.

"We finished a lot better," Gasol said. "We didn't allow them to cut the lead or make a run like what happened the other night at home."

Spencer Hawes had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Jason Thompson added 18 points and 11 boards, and Garcia scored 19 for the Kings (16-61), who lost their fifth straight game and have already set a franchise record for most losses in a season.

"That's one of the best teams in the league -- they have a lot to play for," Kings interim coach Kenny Natt said. "We played hard for the majority of the game, but we had our bad defensive stretches which really put us away."

What once was a heated rivalry between the two California teams has cooled off in recent years as the Kings have fallen from a perennial contender to a lottery regular. There were many Lakers fans in attendance, chanting "M-V-P!" for Bryant throughout the game and booing a "Beat L.A.!" cheer from the Kings contingent.

"It's changed a lot," Bryant said. "There's nothing but Lakers fans here now. It's basically a home game for us. It really was. Things have changed quite a bit."

The Kings made 11 of their first 15 shots to open a 29-17 lead less than seven minutes into the game. The lead proved to be short-lived, as the shots stopped falling for the Kings and the Lakers exploited Sacramento's zone defense.

Los Angeles used runs of 10-0 with Bryant on the bench and then 12-0 with its star back in the game to open up a double-digit lead. Shannon Brown's steal and layup in the closing seconds capped the 40-point quarter and gave the Lakers a 71-55 lead at the half.

The Kings never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

"It seemed like it came pretty quick," Hawes said. "Once they got going, it just seemed like they hit a couple of shots and they sealed it right there."

Brown, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar and Josh Powell scored 22 points combined off the bench in the quarter.

Notes

  • Lakers C Andrew Bynum did not make the trip to Sacramento but could return to the lineup later this week for the first time since tearing a right knee ligament on Jan. 31.
  • Kings leading scorer Kevin Martin missed his third straight game with a sore left ankle and is day-to-day.
  • Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento and a former NBA All-Star, attended the game.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Kobe Bryant finishes with 22 points to help his Lakers gain ground on the Cavs for the best record.  (AP)
Kobe Bryant finishes with 22 points to help his Lakers gain ground on the Cavs for the best record. (AP)
Scoreboard
L.A. Lakers (62-16) «31402526122
Sacramento (16-61) 37183118104
LAL:P. Gasol 26 Pts
LAL:P. Gasol 12 Reb
LAL:L. Walton 9 Ast
SAC:S. Hawes 21 Pts
SAC:S. Hawes 15 Reb
SAC:B. Udrih 6 Ast
Players of the Game
SacramentoLos Angeles

S. Hawes

P. Gasol
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
2115326120

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Los Angeles
P. Gasol, C3711-164-6120326
K. Bryant, SG318-165-854222
L. Odom, PF316-73-3110215
D. Fisher, PG221-60-02203
T. Ariza, SF226-132-230114
L. Walton, SF243-45-639111
J. Powell, SF213-50-08246
S. Vujacic, SG174-72-200112
J. Farmar, PG151-81-23304
S. Brown, PG114-70-02009
D. Mbenga, C80-30-01110
A. Morrison, SF30-00-00000
A. Bynum, CDid Not Play
Y. Sun, SGDid Not Play
Totals 47-9222-29502115122
 51.1%75.9% 
Sacramento
S. Hawes, C4210-180-0153421
F. Garcia, SF407-122-233519
J. Thompson, PF368-122-4111218
A. Nocioni, SF344-130-063210
B. Udrih, PG315-104-646214
D. Greene, SF223-123-320110
B. Jackson, PG192-90-02124
R. McCants, SG102-80-01214
I. Diogu, PF31-12-20004
C. Simmons, SF30-00-01000
C. Booth, CDid Not Play
K. Thomas, PFDid Not Play
W. Solomon, PGDid Not Play
K. Martin, SGDid Not Play
Totals 42-9513-17451919104
 44.2%76.5% 
Other Games
Atl 118 Final
Tor 110
Phi 98 Final
Char 101
NO 93 Final
Mia 87
Port 96 Final
Mem 93
SA 99 Final
OKC 89
NY 103 Final
Chi 110
Orl 83 Final
Hou 93
Min 87 Final
LAC 77