SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Only a superb team effort was going to
beat Kobe Bryant, and the Sacramento Kings have played consummate
team ball against their star-powered rivals since Francisco Garcia
was in high school.
After playing a key part in a thrilling win over the Los Angeles
Lakers, the Sacramento rookie finally understood the importance of
role play in the NBA.
Brad Miller scored 16 points and forced overtime on a 3-pointer
with 4.1 seconds left in regulation for the Kings, who won their
third straight game in a thriller despite Bryant's best game ever
against the Lakers' longtime rivals.
Garcia's eyes still were wide after a night spent guarding
Bryant with tight defense that probably prevented a huge game from
becoming historic. Garcia also hit the Kings' final field goal,
burying a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left in regulation.
"Everybody on the floor had to do something, because Kobe is an
incredible player," Garcia said after his first experience
guarding the NBA scoring leader. "It's different in the NBA. One
guy isn't going to beat a guy like Kobe. ... I just tried to get
open, play my game and stay close to him. It was everybody's
Bryant got 21 points in the first quarter and 12 more in the
final 5:43 of regulation, also grabbing nine rebounds and making
all 13 of his free throws to extend his franchise record to 48
straight. Bryant has scored at least 37 points in eight of the last
nine games, and he surpassed Magic Johnson's franchise-record 46
points against the Kings in 1986.
"I don't care about 50 points," Bryant said. "It doesn't
matter at all. ... Weird things happen in the NBA. This was one of
The Kings' comeback was only a bit surreal. They fell behind
102-97 with 35 seconds left on Lamar Odom's 3-pointer -- but
Sacramento scored seven quick points, tying it at 104 on Miller's
3-pointer from straightaway. Odom missed a long shot at the buzzer.
"I don't know what Brad was doing," Bibby said. "It went
down, and that's all that matters. We kept fighting, and we didn't
give up. I kept telling everybody the game's not over yet, and we
did what we had to do in overtime."
Odom scored 16 points but fouled out in the opening minute of
overtime, and Sacramento went up 111-104 on Bibby's sixth 3-pointer
and consecutive baskets by Thomas, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds
and a career-high 10 assists -- including the last one to set up
Odom and Smush Parker berated official Dan Crawford after the
final buzzer in Los Angeles' second loss in eight games. The Lakers
have lost in five of their last six visits to Arco Arena, the site
of several memorable playoff meetings early in the decade.
"I'll take the blame for that," said Odom, who was called for
a charging foul with 22 seconds left in regulation. "I should have
let the clock run down more. It was a flop call on a team that was
dead. I gave them life. He drew the charge, that's what Mr.
Crawford saw. It gave them momentum."
Bibby scored 24 points in the second half of his second 40-point
game in five days, and the Kings got a boost from the limited
return of injured starters Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Peja Stojakovic.
Last-place Sacramento has won four of five before embarking on a
six-game East Coast trip.
Bryant played the entire first quarter and demanded the ball on
almost every possession. He finished the first half with 26 points,
but grew visibly frustrated with his teammates -- particularly Odom
-- when they didn't pass to him every time down the court.
Luke Walton got an earful from Bryant after the third quarter
ended, but Garcia's defense was the real reason for Bryant's
relative ineffectiveness. Bryant overcame that defense in the
fourth quarter, leading Los Angeles to an eight-point lead before
the frantic final minutes.
Abdur-Rahim scored 11 points with his mouth wired shut, making a
surprisingly effective 19-minute return to the Kings' lineup just
3½ weeks after his jaw was broken by Portland's Zach Randolph.
Stojakovic also returned to the lineup after missing three games
with a protruding disc in his lower back, scoring 13 points on
Vlade Divac attended his second straight game at courtside,
again receiving a standing ovation. Divac spent his first seven NBA
seasons with the Lakers, played six more in Sacramento and rejoined
the Lakers in 2004, but played just 15 games last season before
retiring. ... Kings owner Joe Maloof, whose frequent absences from
his courtside seat prompted murmurs in Sacramento, cheered on the
Kings from midcourt. Maloof has watched several recent games from a