Thursday , Feb , 26 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers Team Report – February 26

=== Los Angeles Lakers Team Report – February 26 ===

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers try to move a little closer in the
Pacific Division tonight, as they try to extend their winning streak to six
games when they welcome the Sacramento Kings to the Staples Center.

The Lakers’ latest win came in dramatic fashion on Wednesday when Kareem
Rush drained a three-pointer with 3.2 seconds remaining to lift Los Angeles
to a 112-111 win over the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.

Kobe Bryant ended with 35 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the
Lakers, who now trail the Kings by five games in the Pacific. Shaquille
O’Neal added 16 points and eight boards while Gary Payton chipped in 14
points and eight assists in the win.

Los Angeles was down by 13 midway through the final stanza, but used a
furious rally, including a 11-0 spurt, to get back in the contest. However,
Denver then pulled away again before a 7-2 run by the Lakers pulled them
within 111-109 with 52.6 seconds remaining. Carmelo Anthony had a chance to
increase the Nuggets’ lead, but O’Neal blocked the ball out of bounds with
29.9 seconds left.

On the inbounds pass, though, Andre Miller threw up a shot that hit the side
of the rim and was grabbed by Anthony. However, one official inadvertently
blew the whistle thinking the ball would not hit the rim and cause a
shot-clock violation.

Due to the inadvertent whistle, the referees had a jump ball at mid-court in
which O’Neal won. Los Angeles then ran the clock down and Rush buried a
three- pointer from the left wing with 3.2 seconds left to make it 112-111.

A win tonight would give Los Angeles its first six-game run since a 10-game
tear from November 19-December 9.

Bryant has been on fire since the All-Star break and has been the main
catalyst behind LA’s most recent tear. In his five games since the break, he
has averaged 33.8 points, eight assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 steals and is
shooting 60-percent from the floor in that span.

The Lakers, who will hit the road for four games following tonight’s tilt,
have won eight of 10 and 10 of their last 13 home games and are 22-4 at home
this season.

Los Angeles lost to the Kings earlier in the year, but has won three of
four, six of eight and 11 of its last 14 at home in this series.