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Rush scores 30 in place of Kobe

1/17/2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Though their opponents wore those
familiar purple jerseys and had the same goateed coach, it just
wasn't the same for the Sacramento Kings.

Scoring over Brian Cook or blocking Jamal Sampson's shot is much
less fun than facing Shaq, Kobe and the real Los Angeles Lakers.

Peja Stojakovic scored 23 points and the Kings routed the
injury-depleted Lakers 103-83 Friday night in an anticlimactic
meeting of archrivals.

Mike Bibby had 21 points for the Kings, who won their fourth
straight and improved the NBA's best record to 28-9. Still, the
Kings attached almost no significance to their first game of the
season against Los Angeles.

"They didn't have their big guns, so we just did what we had to
do: jump on them," said Brad Miller, who had nine points, 14
rebounds and five assists in his introduction to the heated
rivalry.

Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Horace Grant and
Rick Fox all missed the game, leaving coach Phil Jackson, Gary
Payton and the Lakers' supporting cast to endure the taunts and
cowbells of Sacramento. The Lakers had won three straight with
their diminished roster, but they were no match for the Kings.

"It doesn't matter to me who they've got out there," said
Bobby Jackson, who scored 15 points. "This is still the game we
get up for more than any other one. They'll be healthy by the time
the playoffs come around."

Sacramento never trailed and scored 17 consecutive points early
in the third quarter, punctuated when Stojakovic accidentally
banked in a 3-pointer. The Kings took a 29-point lead early in the
fourth and coasted to the win despite regularly losing focus in yet
another home victory.

"That's a good team, (but) when we get all our guys back, we'll
be a good team, too," Payton said. "We have young guys in here
that are trying to learn how to play. They don't know this offense
really well, so this is a learning experience for them."

Payton scored 16 points but was thoroughly outplayed by Bibby,
who hit several tough jumpers and ran the Kings' up-tempo offense
to perfection before sitting out the fourth quarter. Sacramento is
a league-best 21-2 at home.

Kareem Rush scored a career-high 30 points for the Lakers in
Bryant's starting spot.

There was only a bit of the usual antagonistic flavor to this
matchup: Before the game, Phil Jackson pointed out the Kings'
tendency to allow opponents to recover from large deficits against
them. But the Lakers' JV squad couldn't mount a significant rally
against the Kings.

"We put some pressure on them so it would be a competitive
game, but we got blown out of the water in the third quarter,"
Phil Jackson said. "You have to hand it to the Kings. They have
the experience, and they created turnovers in the third quarter
that caused the momentum."

Chris Webber hasn't played all season for the Kings while
recovering from knee surgery, but he was behind the bench cheering
on his teammates. The Lakers' injured contingent stayed home, and
it didn't miss much.

Sacramento led 47-38 at halftime despite getting no points from
Miller and just one offensive rebound from the entire team. But
Bibby sparked the Kings' 17-0 run after Los Angeles got the opening
basket of the second half, and the rest of the game was uglier than
any Lakers-Kings matchup in recent memory.

Malone missed his 11th straight game with a knee injury, and
Bryant spent his second game on the injured list with a sprained
shoulder. O'Neal is nearly ready to return from a calf injury, but
he didn't make the trip to Sacramento.

What's more, Fox hasn't played all season for the Lakers, and
Grant has left the team to be with his ailing father in Georgia.

Seldom-used second-year pro Sampson got his first NBA start in
Sacramento, and Vlade Divac abused him with clever layups and
passing. Los Angeles' starting frontcourt -- Sampson, Slava
Medvedenko and Devean George -- combined to shoot 6-for-22.

Game notes
Earlier in the week, Payton and Bobby Jackson joined a
business venture with former Kings player LaSalle Thompson to
produce high-class wheels for luxury cars. ... The Lakers fell to
2-3 in games without Bryant and O'Neal since the 1996-97 season.
... Motley Crue singer Vince Neil got two words wrong in the
national anthem. ... O'Neal practiced with the Lakers on Thursday,
and he could return by Monday for a home game against Phoenix. ...
Webber has participated in light workouts with the Kings, but no
return date has been set.