<
>

Stojakovic scores 37 for Kings

2/27/2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Even with three of their best players out of
action, the Sacramento Kings came up with an improbable and
impressive victory Thursday night.

Mike Bibby made two 3-pointers in the final 90 seconds to cap a
season-high 31-point performance as the Kings defeated the Los
Angeles Lakers 103-101.

The loss was just the fifth in 27 home games for the Lakers.

Peja Stojakovic had 37 points and nine rebounds as the Kings won
their fourth straight and eighth in nine games. Bibby also had
eight rebounds and seven assists.

Although pleased with the win, the Kings didn't want to make too
much of it.

"They played last night against Denver -- that's back-to-back.
We took advantage of it," Vlade Divac said.

"It's another regular-season game," Stojakovic said.

The game was the second of four between the teams this season.
The Kings beat the Lakers 103-83 in Sacramento last month in a game
that O'Neal, Bryant and Karl Malone all sat out because of injuries
and Horace Grant missed for personal reasons.

It was the Kings who were undermanned this time, as Brad Miller
and Bobby Jackson sat out along with Chris Webber, who is healthy
enough to play but on NBA suspension until next Tuesday.

"It gives you a little confidence," Stojakovic said. "I
really think we are going to be a much better team."

A 3-pointer by Bibby from the left corner with 1½ minutes
remaining gave Sacramento a 100-98 lead, and he added another
3-pointer with 45.2 seconds left to put the Kings ahead by five
points.

Kobe Bryant's 3-pointer with 37.8 seconds left drew the Lakers
within two points.

After Bibby missed a 3-pointer, the Lakers elected not to call
timeout. Bryant used a screen from Shaquille O'Neal to get open,
but his 25-footer was short. Bibby rebounded and dribbled out the
clock.

Bryant said Sacramento's Doug Christie accidentally hit him in
the face as he attempted the final shot.

"But I'll still take that shot again -- any day -- with him
hitting me across the face," Bryant said.

The Kings, whose 42-14 record is the NBA's best, extended their
lead over the Lakers to six games in the Pacific Division.

Bryant had 35 points, a season-high 11 rebounds and six assists.
O'Neal had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (36-20), who
had won five straight and seven of eight.

"We should have won that game, but they shot the ball really
well in the last couple of minutes and they capitalized on our
mistakes," O'Neal said. "Bibby had a fabulous game and Stojakovic
had a fabulous half. They'll always have to shoot like that to beat
us."

The Kings shot 36-of-75 (48 percent) including 12-of-24 (50
percent) from 3-point range. The Lakers shot 39-of-87 (44.8
percent).

The Kings went 9-of-21 in the fourth quarter while the Lakers
were just 6-of-23. O'Neal made the only two shots he attempted in
the final period, while his teammates were 4-of-21.

Bryant made a layin with 2:37 remaining to give the Lakers a
96-94 lead. Anthony Peeler's three-point play with 2:04 left put
the Kings ahead by one.

O'Neal missed two free throws, but Bryant made a pair with 1:38
to play to give the Lakers a 98-97 lead.

Stojakovic scored five points to spark an 8-1 run, giving the
Kings a 92-86 lead with 6:38 remaining. O'Neal then scored six
points during an 8-2 run he capped with a dunk, tying the game at
94 with 3:45 left.

Two baskets by Bryant and another by rookie Brian Cook gave the
Lakers a 69-59 lead -- the largest of the game for either team.

Led by Stojakovic, who had 18 points in the third quarter, the
Kings went on a 21-12 run to finish the period to trim the Lakers'
lead to 81-80.

The Lakers led 29-28 entering the second quarter despite seven
3-pointers by the Kings in the opening period -- four by Stojakovic
in six tries and three by Bibby in four attempts. Los Angeles led
57-49 at intermission.

Game notes
Miller hopes to play Sunday when the Kings entertain
Phoenix. "It feels better every day," he said of his sprained
right foot. "I'm sick of sitting on the bench. I didn't come here
to do that." Miller has missed six games since being injured in
the All-Star game. ... Cook made his second career start as a
replacement for Slava Medvedenko and scored nine points. ... The
Lakers play eight of their next 10 games on the road before
finishing the regular season with 13 of their last 16 at Staples
Center, including a designated road game against the Clippers. ...
Sacramento's Gerald Wallace committed a flagrant foul on O'Neal
late in the second quarter. ... Actors John Travolta and Uma
Thurman were filmed walking around the court during several
timeouts in the first half for a scene in the upcoming movie "Be
Cool."