LOS ANGELES (AP) -- For a while there, it was just like old times
for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant and George, key members of the Lakers' three championship
teams from 2000-02, scored nine points each during an 18-3
fourth-quarter run that propelled the Lakers to a 106-85 victory
over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.
With Bryant watching from the bench with four fouls, the Kings
scored the last seven points of the third quarter to cut the
Lakers' lead to 77-72. That's when the game-turning spurt began.
"It felt great tonight," said Bryant, who led the way with 36
points. "The energy was just tremendous. After we would get a
steal, get a stop, we would come down, score, and be hungry for
another stop, another steal. It just kept snowballing, and we
continued to step up our aggression level."
Bryant scored 11 points in the fourth quarter before coming out
of the game for good with 3:29 remaining. He also had a season-high
10 assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Lamar Odom had 19 points, six rebounds and nine assists, and
George had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers (28-26), who
won for the third time in four games and snapped a three-game
losing streak to the Kings.
"We've had a couple momentum shifts throughout the course of
the year, and this is what we've been talking about as a group -- we
want to build the momentum, because now is the time to do it,"
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We've shown signs of this -- the
Houston game at the end of the road trip."
The Lakers had lost five of six on the road before beating the
Rockets 89-79 on Feb. 8 despite the absence of Chris Mihm, who
missed six games because of a sprained right shoulder before
returning Tuesday night against Portland.
"Tonight was one of the best games of the year for us in terms
of start to finish as far as keeping our defensive mind-set and
mentality," Mihm said.
Mike Bibby scored 25 points, Brad Miller added 16 and Ron Artest
had 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Kings
(25-30), who fell 3½ games behind the Lakers in the race for the
eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"They played harder than us," Kings forward Kenny Thomas said.
"We got back in the game, and then we let it go again."
The Lakers shot 12-of-21 in outscoring the Kings 29-13 in the
fourth quarter. The Kings made their final two shots to finish
5-of-18 in the period.
Overall, the Lakers shot 41-of-78 (52.6 percent) and the Kings
shot 34-of-82 (41.5 percent).
Bryant scored five points to cap a 9-3 spurt that put the Lakers
ahead 69-56 with 7:13 left in the third quarter. But he picked up
his fourth foul less than a minute later, sending him to the bench.
The Lakers held their own in Bryant's absence until the Kings
got two jumpers from Bibby and a 3-pointer from rookie Francisco
Garcia to finish the third quarter. Bryant returned at the
beginning of the final period, and Los Angeles quickly took
"In the fourth quarter, we started missing it," Kings coach
Rick Adelman said. "They got easy opportunities and blew it open.
We just have to do a better job on both ends of the court."
Miller made three straight baskets to give the Kings an 11-4
lead, but the Lakers scored the next 10 points in a span of 85
seconds to go ahead for good.
The Kings are 7-6 since acquiring Artest from Indiana. ...
Mihm returned to the starting lineup, replacing Kwame Brown. Mihm
had six points, one rebound and three blocked shots in 27 minutes
before sitting out the fourth quarter. ... Thomas had seven points
and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes despite having five stitches in his
forehead. He was elbowed Tuesday night during the Kings' 102-77
victory over Golden State. ... The Kings acquired Vitaly Potapenko
and Sergei Monia in a four-team trade Tuesday, with Brian Skinner
going to Portland. "It's not going to change the guys I play
now," Adelman said. The Lakers didn't make a move as the trade
deadline passed. "We had a couple things we were close. Nothing
happened on them," Jackson said, adding he wasn't disappointed.