SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A little consistency is all the Los
Angeles Lakers are craving, and they found some in their first
visit of the season to Arco Arena.
Kobe Bryant had 38 points, five rebounds and five assists and
Shaquille O'Neal added 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists as
the Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings convincingly Friday night,
Two straight road wins aren't enough for the Lakers to believe
they've truly achieved consistency. But it's a start.
"That's a lift," O'Neal said of winning in Sacramento two days
after a victory at Phoenix. "My guys are playing well. We've got
to keep that swagger, keep that intensity, that enthusiasm."
It was the Lakers' first visit to Sacramento since the
three-time defending champions prevented the Kings from reaching
the NBA Finals last season with a dramatic victory in Game 7 of the
Western Conference finals.
The Lakers felt the pressure to play well here again.
"Everybody (in Los Angeles) was pretty nervous about the
game," Bryant said. "I was pretty excited. ... I love Arco. I
love the cow bells and the funny signs."
Peja Stojakovic scored 36 points before fouling out with 1:31
left as the Kings lost at home for the second straight game and
just the fourth time all season. They hadn't lost consecutive home
games since back-to-back losses to Dallas and Milwaukee in early
"Their two stars we couldn't handle tonight," Kings coach Rick
Adelman said. "Inside and outside, they were terrific. We just
didn't have enough answers."
Mike Bibby scored 13 of his 21 points in the third quarter to
keep the Kings in it. He made six straight field goals before
leaving with a right foot injury with 21.3 seconds left in the
period. That gave the Kings a scare, but Bibby returned midway
through the fourth quarter.
Sacramento tied the game twice in the third quarter and made its
runs in the final period, but couldn't get defensive stops when
Bryant was two points shy of the 40 he scored in the win over
the Suns, the Lakers' first victory against a Pacific Division team
away from Staples Center all season. He missed his first three
shots Friday before hitting a 3-pointer with 4:48 left in the first
The Kings played their second game without leading scorer Chris
Webber, who is out for 3 weeks with a sprained left ankle -- the
same injury that sidelined him for the first 20 games last season.
His replacement in the starting lineup, Hedo Turkoglu, had six
points and seven rebounds.
Sacramento started the third with three quick 3-pointers, two
during an 8-0 run that brought them back within a point, 63-62.
Bryant then took over, scoring six straight.
"We let Kobe and Shaq score too much," Bibby said. "I think
we knew we could win this game. In our eyes, we are the best team
in this league"
The Lakers shot 56.8 percent in the first half, including 70
percent in the second quarter to take a 63-55 halftime lead.
Sacramento missed six straight shots and committed two turnovers
during one stretch in the first quarter, allowing the Lakers to
score 13 unanswered points, seven by Bryant, to take a 24-12 lead.
The Lakers were upset with a report in the Sacramento Bee
that implied Bryant was drunk before Game 2 of the Western
Conference Finals here last year -- rather than sick from food
poisoning. "I considered it probably lighthearted journalism,"
coach Phil Jackson said. "I'm sure they wouldn't want a libel suit
against them for saying something that ridiculous. It's just a play
on the situation of going back to last year's playoffs. I don't
think there's any harmful intent." Bryant didn't appreciate it.
"It's just ridiculous," he said. "It bothers me somebody throws
something out there. I approach my job in a professional manner and
I expect them to do the same." ... The Lakers went out to dinner
and a comedy show as a team Thursday night after arriving in
Sacramento. ... Kings G Bobby Jackson, out the past month with a
broken left hand, swished about a dozen 3s in a row from the
baseline before the game. He is expected to be back sometime after
the All-Star break in mid-February. He rejoined the team Friday
after a week's absence because of the death of his mother.