- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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"We have too much talent to think that there's not a chance for us to win when he's not out there," Jamison said.
Bryant didn't play Sunday, marking the first time all season he didn't suit up. But Jamison and the Lakers showed what kind of talent it has without their leader.
Journeyman Jamison reminded everybody why he is No. 43 on the NBA's all-time scoring list and just 176 points away from 20,000 for his career by hitting from all over the court en route to a team-high 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting, including 5-for-8 on 3-pointers.
Just like in Indiana, it wasn't just Jamison, either.
Steve Nash showed he is just as much a former two-time MVP as he is a 39-year-old, posting 19 points and 12 assists.
Metta World Peace showed he's more than a tough wing defender, scoring 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting, after putting up 19 against the Indiana Pacers.
Dwight Howard looked healthier than he has maybe all season, tallying 12 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots.
How it happened: After Sacramento went on a 10-0 run to cut L.A.'s lead to just 90-88 in the fourth quarter, Blake came up huge, drawing a foul on Jason Thompson to thwart a sure Sacramento Kings bucket on the fast break, then hitting a 3-pointer soon after to put L.A. up 95-88. The Lakers regained control of the game, sparking a 13-2 run overall. They rolled from there, winning by 11 and going four games above .500, at 36-32, for the first time all season.
What it means: "They know where we are [in the standings],” Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game. “They know how important these games are at home, especially. We just can’t kick one like we did in Atlanta." The Lakers made it interesting against a Kings team that came into the game 20 games under .500. But they won, which is what they need to keep doing for the final 14 games of the regular season. Now that L.A. has been flirting with a playoff spot for some time, they can even think about moving up the ladder.
"Just looking at [the standings] real quick, No. 6, right?" D'Antoni said before his team won for the 11th time in 14 tries since the All-Star break. "That seems to be the thing. I wouldn’t think anything else. That would be a goal that we try to get to."
Hits: Sunday marked the first time since Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers on Feb. 1, 2008, that L.A. won a game in which Bryant and Gasol did not play.
Howard grabbed 17 rebounds, keeping his streak of collecting 12 or more rebounds in every game since the All-Star break intact. The 14 games with 12 or more boards ties the longest such streak he's had in his career.
Misses: With Bryant out, D'Antoni shrunk his rotation even more, playing just seven guys.
L.A. allowed Patrick Patterson to go off for 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting.
The Lakers had 15 turnovers, resulting in 17 points for Sacramento while forcing the Kings into just six turnovers.
Stat of the game: The Lakers average 22 assists per game as a team, ranking 16th in the league, and outdid themselves Sunday with 28 dimes on 41 baskets (68.3 percent).
What's next: The Lakers will have a chance to do something they've failed to do all season in 13 attempts: sweep a back-to-back. L.A. plays in Phoenix on Monday. Coming into Sunday, the Lakers were 5-8 on the front end of back-to-backs and also 5-8 on the back end of back-to-backs this season. They'll have to beware of the 22-45 Suns, however. The Lakers lost the last time they went to Phoenix this season in Nash's return game.
7dAmin Elhassan and Baxter Holmes