9:30 PM ET, November 23, 2008
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES -- Double-digit scoring by eight Los Angeles Lakers camouflaged what nearly cost them a victory against the young and aggressive Sacramento Kings: sloppy ball handling and poor transition defense.
The Lakers committed 18 turnovers Sunday night, which the Kings converted into 30 points. But Kobe Bryant was good when he had to be, scoring 24 points and dishing out six assists to help the defending Western Conference champs beat the Kings 118-108 and improve the NBA's best record to 11-1.
• The Lakers have scored 100+ points in their last four games, all victories. Their 118 points was a season high as they improved to 11-1.
• Eight Lakers reached double figures, led by Kobe Bryant's 24 points. Bryant has been the Lakers' sole leading scorer in all but two games.
• The Kings shot 4-for-20 from 3-point range and have lost six of their last seven games against the Lakers.
-- ESPN research
"I thought we were poor, defensively," coach Phil Jackson said after watching Sacramento shoot 53.4 percent against his team despite a 4-for-20 showing from 3-point range.
"Offensively we were effective, although we turned the ball over an inordinate amount of times. They shot the ball well and had a lot of speed and penetration out of turnovers. They had 30 points off turnovers. It's tough to defend turnovers. I don't think we recovered well and transitioned well back to defense."
All five Lakers starters reached double figures in points by the third quarter, as they won for the fourth straight time since losing to Detroit at home. Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Pau Gasol chipped in with 16 points.
"I'm not happy with this win. We could have played much more solid defensively," Bryant said. "They did a good job getting out in transition. So from that aspect, we might have been a little worn down."
Despite their won-lost record, the Lakers have shot 50 percent or better from the field only three times in the first 12 games. They finished at 51.7 percent in this one.
Vladimir Radmanovic, wearing red tinted goggles after getting poked in his right eye during Friday night's win against Denver, made took only six shots and was 4-for-5 from 3-point range. He finished with 12 points, going to the bench for good with 5:11 left in the third quarter and the Lakers up by seven.
John Salmons led Sacramento with 24 points and reserve Bobby Brown added 21. Kevin Martin was sidelined for the eighth consecutive game with a sprained left ankle and Mikki Moore missed his fourth straight because of a sprained right ankle.
The Kings, who have lost five of six, used a starting lineup that included rookies Donte Greene and Jason Thompson, who has started every game since Martin's injury and scored 15 points against the Lakers.
"It's hard coming in here and playing the Lakers," Brown said. "They're 11-1 and they've got this momentum. We had some opportunities for fast breaks and we tried to use that to our advantage."
Trailing by as many as 19 points after Bynum's three-point play to open the fourth quarter, Sacramento went on a 21-6 run that narrowed the gap to 105-101 with 6:17 to play. Bobby Jackson helped fuel the rally with 10 points, including a three-point play that capped the rally.
"Our guys never quit. Sometimes they do not play that great, but they never quit," coach Reggie Theus said. "We have a tough game [at Portland], and I was considering if I was going to rest my guys. But I talked to Brad [Miller] and the other guys, and there was no quitting."
Bryant, Gasol and point guard Derek Fisher returned to the game following the ensuing timeout, and the Kings got no closer. The Lakers scored the next nine points to help put it away.
"We started the fourth quarter OK, but we ran aground a little bit," Phil Jackson said. "We turned the ball over and didn't get back on defense. Sacramento ran themselves back into the game with their quick guards and their young talent But it was a good recovery by the starters. They went out and settled us down and got the game under control."
Miller, who missed the first five games of the season because of a suspension for violating the league's drug program, escaped a flagrant foul with 3:24 in the second quarter and Los Angeles leading 50-46. Lakers reserve forward Trevor Ariza drove to the basket past the 7-foot center, who wrapped his arm around Ariza's throat while he was in the air -- sending him crashing to the floor.
Referee Eddie F. Rush didn't agree with the sellout crowd of 18,997, who were still booing while Ariza made one of two free throws.
All nine players Jackson used in the first quarter scored. Sasha Vujacic got his first points on a buzzer-beating pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the arc for a 32-27 lead, after intercepting a pass by Brown at the other end and taking off on a 2-on-none break with Ariza.
It was the first time this season that all five Lakers starters scored in double figures. ... Jackson's best start as an NBA coach with only one loss was in 1996-97 when the Chicago Bulls came out of the gate 17-1 and won the second of three straight NBA titles. The previous season, the Bulls finished 72-10. ... Kings G Quincey Douby, who scored a career-high 32 points against the Lakers in the Kings' final game of last season, was the last player off the bench and was on the floor for less than 2½ minutes. ... The Lakers won their final two meetings against Sacramento last season by 22 and 23 points, after the Kings beat them 114-113 at Staples Center. ... Sacramento is 2-6 since Martin's injury. ... The Kings had a season-high 29 assists.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||47-88 (.534)||45-87 (.517)|
|3PM-3PA||4-20 (.200)||8-14 (.571)|
|FTM-FTA||10-13 (.769)||20-28 (.714)|
|Fast Break Points||19||17|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||23 (0/0)||16 (0/0)|