Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 1/19

Game 1: Thursday, January 19th
Game 2: Thursday, February 23rd
Game 3: Tuesday, March 14th
Game 4: Wednesday, March 22nd

Kings 80

(34-34, 11-23 away)

Lakers 87

(36-34, 19-13 home)

Coverage: FSW

7:30 PM ET, March 22, 2006

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

1 2 3 4 T
SAC 14 26 18 2280
LAL 30 23 19 1587

Top Performers

Sac: B. Miller 12 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Blk

LAL: K. Bryant 28 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 Stl

Lakers lead Kings wire to wire, take seventh in West

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kwame Brown has taken a lot of heat from the hometown fans and media in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He heard only cheers Wednesday night.

Kobe Bryant scored six of his 28 points in the last three minutes, Brown had a season-high 21 points and 12 rebounds, and the Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings 87-80 to move into seventh place in the Western Conference.

"He's been doing the defensive part all year long," Bryant said. "Sometimes, the people want more. Tonight he gave them more."

Lamar Odom had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Smush Parker scored 10 points for the Lakers (36-34), who never trailed.

The Lakers lead Sacramento by one game, with New Orleans a half-game behind the Kings in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Utah is another 1½ games back.

The Lakers acquired the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Brown from the Washington Wizards last summer to give them an inside presence. It hasn't always worked out, especially on the offensive end, as Brown entered averaging 6.1 points and 6.0 rebounds.

It worked out against the Kings.

"The guy's got the best body in the NBA," Odom said. "He's got to throw it around a little bit."

The 24-year-old Brown has played in 60 of the Lakers' 70 games, starting 37. With Chris Mihm sidelined indefinitely because of a severely sprained right ankle, Brown is being called upon to play increased minutes, with his 41 against the Kings a season high.

"Yeah, best all-around game, defense, rebounding and scoring," Brown said when asked to assess his performance. "I've just got to keep being solid. I know I'm going to be in there. I can make a mistake and recover from it -- just play good, sound basketball."

Ron Artest led Sacramento (34-34) with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Bonzi Wells added 15 points and nine rebounds, Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 14 points, Brad Miller had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Mike Bibby scored 10 for the Kings.

Bibby, Sacramento's leading scorer with 21 points per game, sat out most of the third quarter after a collision with Parker in the opening minute of the period.

"We didn't set the tone and we got down big," said Kings coach Rick Adelman, whose team trailed by 16 points entering the second quarter. "I thought we had wide open shots, and we couldn't make them. We stayed with it, but just got down too far, and they had a nice level of comfort. We didn't play as well as we needed to play to win this game."

With Bryant on the bench, the Kings scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to draw within eight. But the Lakers responded by going on a 9-2 run to make it 81-66 with 6½ minutes left.

The Kings scored the next eight points -- four by Artest -- to pull within seven with 3:32 remaining, and a follow dunk by Miller with 1:02 left made it 85-80. But Bryant hit an off-balance jumper from the left baseline as the shot clock was running down with 40 seconds to go, and after Artest missed a 3-pointer, the Lakers ran out the clock.

"We won the last three quarters, we just couldn't finish the job," Artest said.

The Lakers scored eight straight points for a 61-42 lead early in the third quarter. The Kings responded with a 13-5 run to draw within 11. It was 72-58 entering the final period.

Sasha Vujacic's 3-pointer with 5:03 to play in the second quarter gave the Lakers a 44-24 lead. Bibby and Artest, the Kings' leading scorers, had one point between them at that stage -- a foul shot by Bibby.

Suddenly, the two got it going. Artest scored 10 points and Bibby added four as the Kings outscored the Lakers 16-6 to draw within 10 points before Bryant made a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left in the second quarter to give them a 53-40 halftime lead.

Game notes

The Lakers play nine of their final 12 regular-season games at home. No other NBA team has fewer than six road games remaining at this stage. The Kings have 14 games left -- seven at home, where they're 23-11, and seven on the road, where they're 11-23. ... Mihm missed his sixth game. Team spokesman John Black said Mihm is slowly improving, but his return is weeks away. ... Adelman said before the game that his team is as healthy now as its been all year. "We're going to have to win some games on the road if we're going to get in the playoffs," he said. To do so, the Kings will have to play better than they did in this game. ... Lakers coach Phil Jackson expressed confidence in his team. "I still believe that we're going to make the playoffs," he said. "We've gotten some help from other teams. We have to help ourselves now."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 80 87
FGM-FGA 33-77 (.429) 34-79 (.430)
3PM-3PA 5-18 (.278) 6-14 (.429)
FTM-FTA 9-11 (.818) 13-23 (.565)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-40 12-38
Assists 19 22
Turnovers 19 13
Steals 4 13
Blocks 3 3
Fast Break Points 2 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 14 (3/0)
Largest Lead 0 20

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Brad Miller Miller
Points: 12
Reb: 10
Ast: 5
Stl: 0
Blk: 1
Kobe Bryant Bryant
Points: 28
Reb: 5
Ast: 4
Stl: 3
Blk: 0