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Sacramento 103, Los Angeles 90
Posted: Saturday May 25, 2002 04:36 AM
Sacramento Kings
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LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Sacramento Kings' dismal postseason past at the Staples Center was vanquished with 48 dominant minutes.

Chris Webber had 26 points and nine rebounds and Mike Bibby scored 24 points as the Kings rolled to a 103-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference finals.

Sacramento was winless in five previous postseason trips to the Staples Center but needed a win in Los Angeles to reclaim home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. The Kings played with purpose from the opening tip and withstood a remarkable run by the Lakers in the fourth quarter to take a 2-1 lead.

"Without looking forward, because it is a long series, it is a big night," Webber said. "We feel like we're a good road team. When you get on the road, sometimes it's a release from the pressure of being at home."

"For them, (home-court advantage) is not a big deal," Kings center Vlade Divac added. "It looks like we play on the road now better in the playoffs than we do at home."

The Kings improved to 5-0 on the road in the postseason with the franchise's first playoff victory in Los Angeles.

Sacramento took control with a 23-6 run bridging the first two quarters. Hedo Turkoglu scored half of his 14 points during the burst, which gave the Kings a 36-15 cushion early in the second period.

Los Angeles pulled within 52-40 at halftime but managed a playoff-low 12 points in the third quarter.

The Kings led by as many as 27 early in the final period, but the Lakers employed a full-court press and rallied behind Kobe Bryant, who scored 16 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes.

Sacramento an 86-60 cushion after Webber buried 1-of-2 free throws with eight minutes to go. But the Lakers went to the press and forced four consecutive turnovers as the Kings failed to get the ball past half-court.

Los Angeles scored 14 straight points in 52 seconds and pulled within 87-75 on Bryant's second 3-pointer of the surge with 7:08 remaining.

"We just wanted to cut it to 10 points with six minutes to go," Bryant said. "We had an opportunity to do that, but we missed a couple threes. The shots did not fall for us."

Webber responded with a jumper over Shaquille O'Neal and Bibby followed with a driving layup around the intimidating center to stretch the lead to 91-75.

"We got into a hole and we could really not get out of it," O'Neal said. "We started late to try and pick it up, but that is a good enough team over there to (withstand) our run."

Bryant completed a four-point play at 3:45 and Lindsey Hunter nailed a jumper 42 seconds later to get Los Angeles within 98-87, the closest margin since the game's first 10 minutes.

But Bibby answered with a driving layup and fed Webber for an alley-oop dunk with 62 seconds left to seal the victory.

"That's how we've been playing on the road," Bibby said. "We got it going and set our offense. We kept running and attacking and when they went on that run, we let them attack us. Once we started attacking them, we got back control of the game."

The Kings shot 49 percent (38-of-77) from the floor to overcome 19 turnovers.

Doug Christie added 17 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Sacramento, which again played without injured All-Star guard Peja Stojakovic.

Los Angeles, which complained about the disparity in fouls in the first two games, went to the line just 15 times on its home floor while Sacramento made 21-of-35 free throws.

The Lakers shot only 36 percent (36-of-101) from the floor and made 10-of-31 3-pointers, including eight in the fourth quarter.

"We stumbled and fumbled around for three quarters, but you have to give it to the Kings," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "They did a great job of defending and keeping Shaq out of the lane and keeping our offense off-kilter."

Bryant finished with 22 points and O'Neal collected 20 and 19 rebounds but made just 2-of-10 shots after halftime.

O'Neal scored eight straight points as Los Angeles closed the first half with a 12-4 run. But the momentum did not carry into the third quarter as the Lakers made just 5-of-25 shots. O'Neal was only 1-of-7 in the period.

"They really crowded Shaq well and did not give him a good look," Jackson said. "He struggled to find a position in the lane all night."

"We just did not take care of business," O'Neal added. "We are not going to make excuses. We did not play well and the other team played well, and now we have a fight on our hands. We will just have to fight, and we play better when we have to fight."

Bryant, who has been battling a case of food poisoning, made Los Angeles' first shot of the game. But he did not score again until making a layup with 7:42 left in the third quarter.

Bryant was 8-of-24 from the floor, drilling 4-of-9 3-pointers, but went to the free-throw line just twice.

"My energy felt good," he said. "Rhythm was obviously a little out, as far as getting my legs under my shots. But my legs finally came around. I feel confident going into the next game."

Game Four is Sunday at the Staples Center.

 


 
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