Friday , Mar , 02 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe, Lakers need to get their swagger back for stretch run

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers (33-25) are currently the sixth
seed in the Western Conference playoff race, 2 1/2 games behind No. 5 Houston
and four games ahead of the seventh-seeded Denver Nuggets.

After a six-game losing streak, the Lakers have rebounded to win their last
three games. Pacific Division rivals battle on Friday, as the streaking Lakers
welcome the Sacramento Kings to the Staples Center.

It is the second of four meetings between the Kings and Lakers this season. On
January 4th, superstar Kobe Bryant scored nine of his game-high 42 points in
overtime to lift the Lakers over Sacramento, 132-128, at ARCO Arena.

The Lakers will host the Kings on April 1st, while Sacramento is scheduled to
welcome the Lakers on April 18th to ARCO Arena. Sacramento has lost two
straight after winning its last two at the Lakers. The Lakers have won two in
a row in the series.

Los Angeles won two big games on the road. Bryant scored 21 of his 35 points
at the free throw line, lifting the Lakers over the Utah Jazz, 102-94, on
Monday at EnergySolutions Arena.

Smush Parker ended with 24 points and Lamar Odom had 19 points, 14 rebounds
and nine assists in the win over Utah for the Lakers, who knocked off the
Golden State Warriors, 102-85, last Sunday at ORACLE Arena.

On the injury front for the Lakers, center Andrew Bynum (flu) is probable for
Friday’s contest. Bynum is averaging 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in 58 games
this season.

The Lakers are 20-9 as the host this season. After Friday’s contest, they
will embark on a four-game road trip at Phoenix, Minnesota, Milwaukee and
Philadelphia. LA is 13-16 as the visitor in the campaign and has won five of
its last nine as the visitor.

Bryant, who has scored 25 or more points in nine straight games, leads the
Lakers in scoring (29.0 ppg) and assists (5.5 apg), while Odom, who is
second on the team in scoring (16.2 ppg), is averaging a team-best 9.4
rebounds per game.

LA has scored over 100 points in six straight games.

The Lakers are scheduled to host 12 of their final 24 games this season.