Thursday , Mar , 25 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Bryant leads Lakers to rout over rival Kings

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant poured in a game-high 36
points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out six assists to lead the Los
Angeles Lakers to a 115-91 win over arch-rival Sacramento at the Staples
Center.

Gary Payton had 20 points and Shaquille O’Neal added 17 points and 16 rebounds
for the Lakers, who have won six straight and 12 of their last 15 games.

Slava Medvedenko scored 15 points and pulled down eight boards for Los
Angeles, which moved within 2 1/2 games of Sacramento for the top spot in the
Western Conference.

Earlier in the day, Bryant was in a Colorado court together with his accuser
for the first time since the alleged sexual assault incident on June 30. The
woman testified for 3 1/2 hours supposedly answering questions about her
sexual history to determine if the information is permissible in court for the
impending trial.

The 25-year-old Bryant, who was in Colorado for surgery on his right knee at
the time of the alleged assault, claimed the two had consensual sex. He faces
a Class 3 felony with penalties ranging from four years to life in prison or
20 years to life on probation.

“I just put my faith in God and through him we can do all things, said
Bryant.”

After the hearing, he flew to Los Angeles for the game, but the All-Star will
fly back to Eagle County, Colorado Thursday for another court appearance.

“It has been an interesting day, a long day,” said Bryant. “I’m pretty tired
right now so I’ll try and get some rest.”

Peja Stojakovic netted 20 points and Chris Webber added 18 for the Kings, who
have dropped two straight contests.

Sacramento remained two games ahead of Minnesota for the No. 1 seed in the
West. Minnesota lost to Denver on Wednesday night.

The Lakers trailed 9-6 early on, but then went on a commanding 25-1 spurt to
claim a comfortable 31-10 advantage. Bryant and Payton each scored four
straight points before Karl Malone’s three-point play made it 17-9 with 6 1/2
minutes left in the period.

After Webber’s free throw stopped an 11-0 run, Los Angeles ran off the next 14
points to make it a 21-point contest with just over one minute left in the
quarter. Medvedenko added six points and O’Neal scored four during the 14-
point outburst.

Sacramento, which missed 13 straight shots during the 25-1 stretch, trailed
33-14 after one.

The Kings got within 41-28 on Anthony Peeler’s three-pointer midway through
the second quarter, but Los Angeles extended its advantage to 22 points later
in the frame. The Lakers held a 65-47 edge at halftime.

Bryant had 20 points in the first half, while Webber scored 13 in the opening
24 minutes.

Malone’s two free throws midway through the third quarter ballooned the
Lakers’ lead to 30 points at 86-56. The Kings were down 94-72 after three
periods.

Sacramento never threatened in the fourth and trailed by as many as 26 points
in the final period.

LAL SAC