Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/25

Game 1: Wednesday, December 25th
Game 2: Friday, January 31st
Game 3: Thursday, March 20th
Game 4: Thursday, April 10th

Lakers 99

(38-29, 14-19 away)

Kings 107

(48-21, 30-6 home)

    7:00 PM ET, March 20, 2003

    Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 17 25 26 3199
    SAC 25 20 21 41107

    Top Performers

    LAL: S. O'Neal 28 Pts, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk

    Sac: C. Webber 26 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Bryant sits out fourth quarter

    LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Kobe Bryant told everyone he loved them. For another night, at least, everyone loved him back.

    Cheered from the moment he stepped off the team bus, Bryant got in some much needed work with his All-Star teammates Friday night as the Los Angeles Lakers lost 93-87 to the Sacramento Kings in the final exhibition game for both teams.

    Bryant played 23 minutes and scored six points on 3-of-10 shooting. He spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench getting his right knee wrapped and his legs massaged by a trainer as the Lakers reserves rallied to make the game close.

    To the crowd that greeted him with signs proclaiming his innocence on rape charges, though, all that mattered was he showed up to play.

    He did more than that, going out to midcourt before the game, microphone in hand, to thank the fans for the display of affection.

    "I want to thank everybody for coming out," he said. "Enjoy the season, enjoy the game. Thank you for your support. I love you all."

    All the Lakers starters sat on the bench for much of the fourth quarter after the Kings opened up a 74-58 third quarter lead. But, with reserves playing for both teams, the Lakers went on a 15-0 run to close to within a point before a 3-pointer by Anthony Peeler broke the Kings' scoreless drought with 7:28 left.

    Peja Stojakovic scored 18 points for the Kings, who never allowed the Lakers to get that close again. Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers with 19 points, while Gary Payton had 14.

    Bryant, who played for the first time Thursday night at home in the Lakers' loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, started alongside All-Star teammates O'Neal, Payton and Karl Malone.

    They were all politely received, but the crowd of 18,234 -- the first sellout ever of a Lakers' exhibition game in Las Vegas -- seemed mostly interested in seeing Bryant.

    "It's fun to just get out there and play," Bryant said.

    Fans climbed up a wall and held up signs to welcome Bryant as the Lakers' team bus arrived at the UNLV campus arena. One fan held up a sign reading "The underwear tells the truth -- Kobe is innocent."

    Bryant was cheered when he got the opening tip, cheered when he took -- and missed -- his first shot and cheered loudly when he got a slam dunk off a feed from O'Neal midway through the first half.

    "My comfort is there. My legs aren't there yet," Bryant said. "My legs are just tired. I'm just trying to get in shape."

    He played nearly nine minutes in the first quarter, and the final seven minutes of the second. When the crowd saw him go to the scorer's table to re-enter the game, they began chanting "KOBE, KOBE, KOBE."

    Bryant was even cheered at halftime, when a fan decked out in a one of his No. 8 jerseys was chosen to take part in a shooting promotion.

    The Kings, playing without injured Chris Weber and Vlade Divac, more than held their own against the All-Star cast of Lakers, who sometimes seemed to have trouble figuring out who should be where on the court.

    After Stojakovic hit a 3-pointer in the first minute of the second half to give the Kings a 55-45 lead, a miffed Phil Jackson called a quick timeout to school his team on defense.

    It was the second loss in two nights for the Lakers, who didn't have all four of their superstars on the floor at one time until Thursday night's loss to the Clippers. The Lakers finished the preseason 3-5, while the Kings ended it 4-4.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 99 107
    FGM-FGA 35-91 (.385) 38-83 (.458)
    3PM-3PA 5-21 (.238) 6-14 (.429)
    FTM-FTA 24-30 (.800) 25-30 (.833)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 22-56 9-42
    Assists 19 20
    Turnovers 18 12
    Steals 8 11
    Blocks 4 6
    Fast Break Points 2 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (1/0) 22 (3/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 28
    Reb: 13
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 3
    Chris Webber Webber
    Points: 26
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1