Lakers down Kings, head into playoffs as seven seed
Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant poured in 34 points to lead the
Los Angeles Lakers into the playoffs with a 117-106 win over the Sacramento
Kings, as the Pacific Division rivals wrapped up their regular season at ARCO
Kwame Brown scored 17 points, while Lamar Odom had 15 points and pulled down
13 rebounds for the Lakers (42-40), who will be the seventh seed in the
Western Conference playoffs and will face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix knocked out Los Angeles in the opening round last year in seven games.
The Lakers went 1-3 against Phoenix this season and have dropped 10 of their
last 12 regular-season meetings with the Suns.
Luke Walton finished with 10 points and 11 boards for the Lakers, who closed
out their regular season with a two-game winning streak.
Mike Bibby scored 17 points — all in the first quarter — and Ron Artest
added 16 and dished out six assists for the Kings (33-49), who had their
streak of eight straight years in the postseason halted.
Kevin Martin and John Salmons each chipped in with 14 points, Justin Williams
had 12 and Quincy Douby donated 11 for Sacramento. Francisco Garcia also
finished in double figures with 10 points.
Bibby stole the show in the first quarter, as he made six of the team’s first
nine buckets. Two were from three-point range, while a short jumper at 5:25
pushed the Kings to a 20-14 edge.
Sacramento held a 24-20 lead a few minutes later, and Bibby’s trey made it a
seven-point lead and gave him 17 points in the contest with 3:44 still left in
The Kings led 30-28 after the first quarter and 57-53 at intermission.
A pair of Bryant layups put the Lakers on top, 62-61, in the third, sparking a
13-2 run. Brown’s alley oop dunk capped the rally, and following a Williams’
dunk shot for Sacramento, Bryant’s three-point play gave the Lakers a 76-69
lead at 4:04.
Two Martin free throws closed out the third, as the Kings trailed 88-80
heading to the final stanza.
Sacramento never got closer than four the rest of the way, while a three-point
shot by Evans with a little more than five minutes remaining gave the Lakers
an 11-point edge.
That cushion grew to 13 inside of two minutes to play as the Lakers coasted to
the finish line.
Bryant earned his second straight scoring title, averaging 31.6 points this
season. He became the first Lakers player to lead the league in scoring in
back-to-back seasons since George Mikan did it three years in a row back when
the team was still in Minneapolis, starting in 1948-49…The Lakers won the
season series with the Kings, 3-1… The winning team has scored over 100
points in 20 of the last 21 meetings…Los Angeles has won 18 of the last 31