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Friday, December 6, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 106, Kings 100

By Dave McMenamin

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- If Friday was the final dress rehearsal before the fully realized, Kobe Bryant-included version of the 2013-14 Los Angeles Lakers debuts, Jodie Meeks sure made a case for not just disappearing from the rotation as Bryant’s understudy.

Meeks, who has not only been L.A.’s most improved player this season, but somebody who should warrant consideration for the league’s annual award, caught fire with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including a 5-for-6 mark from 3 in the Lakers' 106-100 win over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.

The win lifted L.A.’s record to 10-9 in Bryant’s absence, something very few could have imagined.

How it happened: The Lakers fell down by 10 late in the third quarter after back-to-back Ben McLemore 3-pointers but went on an 11-0 run to close the third and open the fourth to get back in it. The Kings regained control, taking a four-point lead into the final minutes before L.A. hit four jumpers to spark an 11-0 run: Meeks hit a 3 to cut it to one, Pau Gasol hit one from the top of the key to put L.A. up by one, Meeks hit another triple from the corner to put the Lakers up four with 1:09 to go and Nick Young capped it with a pull-up from midrange to increase L.A.’s lead to six with 30.1 seconds remaining.

What it means: The Lakers clearly have momentum, winners of six of their past eight games. Now they face the prospect of reintegrating Bryant into the lineup, which is a good problem to have.

Hits: Gasol had 19 points and seven rebounds.

Steve Blake had 13 points and 10 assists.

Robert Sacre followed up his career-high 12 points against Portland with 11 points in 17 minutes.

Wes Johnson’s chase-down block on Isaiah Thomas and stripped steal of McLemore in the fourth quarter turned the tide of the game.

Misses: L.A. was outrebounded 51-36.

Stat of the game: All five Lakers starters scored in double digits.

Up next: Bryant's long-awaited return Sunday at home against the Toronto Raptors. Getcha popcorn ready.