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Lakers' record 12-game road streak ends

5/21/2002

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Whether it was food poisoning, fouls
or simply bad shooting, the Los Angeles Lakers couldn't summon
their customary fourth-quarter magic.

And after their first road playoff loss in nearly two years, the
two-time champions finally might have a postseason challenge on
their hands.

Chris Webber had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Mike Bibby
scored 20 points as the Sacramento Kings evened the Western
Conference finals 1-1 Monday night, weathering Shaquille O'Neal's
biggest game of the postseason to beat the Lakers 96-90.

O'Neal had 35 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, whose
NBA-record streak of 12 consecutive road playoff victories ended in
an unsightly game in front of another delirious Arco Arena crowd.

Afterward, with a white hat pulled low over angry eyes, O'Neal
blamed the Lakers' loss on the refereeing. O'Neal was whistled for
three offensive fouls -- and the Arco crowd howled for many more.
The Lakers got 31 fouls to the Kings' 25.

"In order to beat us, you have to beat us fair and square,"
O'Neal said. "There's only one way to beat us. It starts with a
'C' and ends with a 'T.' The real basketball fans understand
what's going on here."

Cheating accusations aside, the referees couldn't be totally at
fault for a mediocre effort by the Lakers -- and a solid performance
by the Kings until a hectic fourth quarter. It was just the third
defeat in 27 playoff games for the Lakers, who hadn't lost on the
road since Game 5 of the 2000 NBA Finals.

The best-of-seven series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on
Friday night, with Game 4 on Sunday at Staples Center.

The Lakers got 22 points on 9-for-21 shooting from Kobe Bryant,
who received three liters of intravenous fluids in the hours before
the game after an overnight bout with food poisoning from a
room-service cheeseburger.

"Next time I want a cheeseburger, I'll just go to McDonald's,"
Bryant said with a grin. "I was up all night, man. I don't think
you guys want to hear the details. In certain spurts, I had a lot
of energy. In some, I didn't.

"I just tried to pace myself. Obviously, if I was healthy, I
would have played a lot better than I did."

The game wasn't exactly a classic. Sacramento led 89-74 with 6 1/2
minutes left, but the Kings managed just one field goal after that.
The Lakers gradually rallied despite bad shooting and turnovers by
both teams in the closing minutes.

"When they came back, we were able to stay focused and stay
with the game plan," said Doug Christie, who had 13 points for
Sacramento. "That was the difference between the first game and
this one. We didn't let them get to us."

Trailing 92-82, the Lakers scored five straight points, but
O'Neal missed a free throw, then came up short on an easy hook
shot. Los Angeles missed five straight shots in the closing seconds
before Bryant's 3-pointer with 12.5 seconds left cut the lead to
93-90.

The Lakers eagerly fouled Webber, who missed seven of his first
nine free throws. Webber hit one of two, and Rick Fox missed a
3-pointer to seal it.

"I remember missing three on the back of the rim, and two were
in and out," Webber said. "I remember saying, 'What's the matter,
man? You haven't shot this bad since you were a bad shooter."'

O'Neal manhandled the Kings all night, but the Lakers never were
able to exert their will as they did in Game 1, a 106-99 victory.
Supporting players Fox, Derek Fisher, Devean George and Samaki
Walker were a combined 9-for-32 from the field.

"You're going to give us shots to guys like Fisher and Rick
Fox," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "You just have to. All we
can do is do a good job of rotating and getting a hand in guys'
faces."

Robert Horry had eight points and a career playoff-high 20
rebounds before fouling out for the Lakers, who also lost Game 2 of
the conference semifinals to San Antonio.

Vlade Divac had 15 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out
against O'Neal. Bobby Jackson added 17 points in a reserve role.

O'Neal scored 23 points on 11-for-15 shooting in the first half.
He slowed in the second half, but still finished with his biggest
production of the postseason.

The Lakers didn't open Game 2 as splendidly as Game 1, when they
made nine straight shots on the way to a big early lead they never
relinquished. O'Neal carried Los Angeles through the first half,
bulling past capable post defenders Divac and Scot Pollard with the
ease that only he can manage.

Bryant didn't seem restricted because of his illness, but he
rested longer than usual in the first half and got just one basket
in the second quarter. Coach Phil Jackson also sat him for a
stretch in the fourth quarter to gather strength.

"He was still Kobe. He was still strong and aggressive,"
Christie said. "When he was out on the floor, he was still
tough."

All-Star Peja Stojakovic missed his fourth straight game for the
Kings because of his sprained ankle. Hedo Turkoglu, who went
0-for-8 in Game 1, missed his first three shots but finally hit a
jumper with 1:05 left in the first half, sparking a standing
ovation from the Arco crowd and a sheepish grin from the Turkish
star.

Game notes
Divac opened the game with a jumper that gave Sacramento
its first lead of the series. The Lakers led throughout Game 1. ...
Bibby got a technical foul in the first when he spiked the ball on
the court in frustration, and it bounced up to hit O'Neal in the
head. ... O'Neal passed Kevin McHale for 12th place on the NBA's
career playoff scoring list. ... Supermodel Tyra Banks, Webber's
girlfriend, was among several celebrities in attendance. Lakers
owner Jerry Buss sat in the front row, on the opposite end from
Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof.