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Sacramento 96, Los Angeles 90
Posted: Tuesday May 21, 2002 03:05 AM
Los Angeles Lakers
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Sacramento Kings
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SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- This time, Mike Bibby and the Sacramento Kings made sure there would be no fourth-quarter magic for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Chris Webber had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Bibby had seven of his 20 points -- including a clutch 3-pointer -- in the final period as the Kings evened their best-of-seven Western Conference finals series against the Lakers at one game apiece, 96-90.

With the victory, the Kings snapped the Lakers' NBA playoff-record road winning streak at 12 games. Los Angeles, which had multiple fourth-quarter rallies over San Antonio in the conference semifinals, had not lost on the road in the postseason since Game Five of the NBA Finals to Indiana on June 16, 2000.

In this one, after Doug Christie made a free throw to give the Kings their largest advantage, 89-74, with 6:46 remaining, the Lakers chipped away, climbing within 89-82 on a pair of free throws by Rick Fox with 3:39 left.

But Bibby countered with a 3-pointer over Kobe Bryant as the shot clock was winding down with 2:51 to go to restore the Kings' double-digit edge, and the Lakers got no closer than 93-90 on a shot from the arc by Bryant with 12 seconds left.

"I was gonna try to get to the basket but I looked up and there was only four seconds and it wasn't really in my hands, so I just threw it up," Bibby said. "Thank God it went in."

Webber made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Kings a four-point cushion with 11 seconds remaining, and after Fox missed a 3-pointer, Bobby Jackson made a pair at the line to close out the scoring.

"Obviously it's just a huge win for us," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We had to win this game. After losing the first one, we did not want to go to Los Angeles down two games."

Jackson tallied 17 points, Vlade Divac 15 and 14 rebounds and Christie 13 points for Sacramento, which shot only 44 percent (33-of-75) but limited Los Angeles to 40 percent (36-of-89).

"We knew this game was a must-win for us," Jackson said. "We played well up until the last four or five minutes of the game, then we couldn't make a shot. Luckily, we had a big lead."

Sacramento shot 58 percent from the arc (7-of-12), while Los Angeles connected on just 3-of-19 (16 percent).

"They took it to us tonight with energy," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We had opportunities down the stretch. We had trouble in the fourth quarter. Our shooting wasn't good tonight. We didn't shoot well from the 3-point line."

Shaquille O'Neal dominated inside, registering 35 points and 12 rebounds, and Bryant added 22 points, but the Lakers' 1-2 punch got little help from their teammates. Rick Fox scored 10 points but was the only other player to reach double figures.

"We feel good about the game," O'Neal said. "Those who know and understand the game know what really went on. ... In order to beat us, you have to have to beat us fair and square. There is only one way to beat us, it starts with a C and ends with a T (cheat). We feel good about what went on tonight."

Bryant, who became ill after eating a bacon cheeseburger and a slice of cheesecake at his hotel Sunday night, was given intravenous fluids Monday morning and missed the team's shootaround. But he started the game and was sharp early, scoring nine points in the opening quarter as the Lakers took a 26-25 advantage.

Bryant began the second quarter on the bench, but the Kings opened the period on an 8-0 run, prompting Phil Jackson to re-insert the All-Star guard. O'Neal then took over, scoring 15 of his team's next 17 points to take a 43-42 edge.

"In certain spurts I had a lot of energy, and in some I didn't," Bryant said. "I just tried to pace myself for three quarters and then hopefully we'd get within striking distance, and then (with) the energy I saved up, I'd be able to put it all out when the game is one the line. But unfortunately we weren't able to get it to that point."

After Bryant hit a jumper to give the Lakers a 50-47 advantage, Hedo Turkoglu, starting once again for the injured Peja Stojakovic, made a jump shot -- his first basket of the series -- and followed his own missed free throw with an off-balance jumper to give the Kings the lead for good, 51-50, with 27 seconds left in the half.

Divac then sank 1-of-2 free throws to make it 52-50 entering halftime.

Neither team shot well from the line. The Lakers made 15-of-25, including just 5-of-11 from O'Neal, and the Kings converted 23-of-38. Webber had an abysmal night at the stripe, connecting on only 2-of-11 attempts.

"I remember missing three on the back rim and two in and out, so I said to myself, 'What's going on? You haven't shot this bad since you were a bad shooter,'" Webber said. "I'll hit the gym tomorrow and see if I can get my stroke back and we'll see what happens. If we would have lost this game I wouldn't have been able to live with myself."

Game Three is Friday in Los Angeles.

"We have three days to get ready," Adelman said. "The next game is going to be totally different than this one. Now we have to go to L.A. and win a game."

 


 
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