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Lakers withstand Kings' rally to recover from earlier loss

LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers didn't look like world beaters, but were good enough to beat the Kings this time.

Avenging their loss at Sacramento three days earlier, Los Angeles survived a late charge to hold off the Kings 112-103 on Friday night.

"We did better playing against them tonight," said Kobe Bryant, who led the Lakers with 32 points. "In Sacramento we weren't able to contain them in any stretch.

"They made a couple of big 3s down the stretch on a couple of blown assignments. But still in all, we did OK."

Pau Gasol had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who built sizable leads several times only to have defensive lapses that let Sacramento back into the game.

The Kings stormed back from a 92-77 deficit early in the fourth quarter to close to 101-98 on Spencer Hawes' 3-pointer with 3:02 remaining. But Derek Fisher sank a 14-footer, Bryant made a short jumper, then a driving dunk and free throw, and the Lakers suddenly had stretched the lead back to 10.

John Salmons, who led Sacramento with 26 points, expected Bryant to be determined in the rematch.

"The whole world knew that he was going to come out ready for this game," Salmons said. "So it is what it is -- he is Kobe."

One of only three defeats in Los Angeles' 22 games this season was at the hands of the otherwise struggling Kings, a 113-101 upset at Sacramento on Tuesday.

Although they never led, the Kings played the Lakers tough again and were tied 52-all at halftime. Los Angeles opened a 76-61 lead with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter and was up 84-72 heading into the fourth.

Trevor Ariza scored 13 for Los Angeles, and Fisher had 11. Andrew Bynum had eight points and 10 rebounds when he fouled out with 4:24 remaining and the Lakers up 98-91.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson had some points to make in his postgame talk to the players.

"I told them we found ways to keep this ballclub in the game, in the end of the first half, in the end of the third quarter, and at the end of the game," he said.

"We did it through a variety of things. Let's not take anything away from Sacramento, but we really kept them in the game."

Beno Udrih had 16 points and Francisco Garcia scored 13 for Sacramento. Hawes finished with 11 points.

Salmons found some solace in the way the Kings came back late in the game.

"I think in the past, we would have quit before the game was over," he said. "We kept fighting and we were right there with them. At this point, we have to take anything that we can get."

Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said his team did a lot of good things, but, "They're a great basketball team and down the stretch, we made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them."

Salmons' steal off Bryant and fast-break layup with 7 seconds left in the first half drew the Kings even at 52. That was the third and last time the score was tied.

In their meeting in Sacramento three days earlier, the Lakers went in with 14 wins in their last 15 games, and the Kings were 5-16 and had lost 11 of their previous 12. But Salmons and Garcia scored 21 points apiece, Bobby Jackson added 15 and the Kings claimed their first home win in nine games.

Bryant scored 28 in that loss, but was just 9-of-25 from the floor and the Lakers were held to 40 percent shooting. He was 11-of-21 in the rematch and the Lakers shot 50 percent.

Game notes
At 19-3, the Lakers equaled their start under Jackson in 2001-02. They have a ways to go, though, to equal the Bulls' 41-3 beginning with Michael Jordan in 1995-96 when Jackson was the Chicago coach. ... The Kings hadn't played since their win over the Lakers in Sacramento. Los Angeles beat Phoenix 115-110 the following night. ... Bynum became just the second Laker to foul out of a game this season. The other is Lamar Odom.