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Mark Heisler ON THE NBA

Kings Head to Game 7 in a Foul Mood

June 01, 2002|Mark Heisler

OK, g-g-guys, b-b-back to Arco for G-G-Game 7.

The Kings, who hoped to spare themselves this ordeal are going the distance with the Lakers, who dug themselves out of their hole Friday night.

Of course, those 27 free throws the Lakers shot in the fourth quarter, 20 of which went in, helped.

"I just feel sorry for our team," said a steaming King Coach Rick Adelman. "Cause they did everything they could to win the game. It's just a shame, It's a real shame....

"Well, you tell me. Our big guys get 20 fouls tonight and Shaq [O'Neal] gets four. You tell me how the game went. It's just how it is. They obviously got the game called the way they wanted to get it called. But I'll tell you what, our guys played their tails off. They still had a chance to win and I give them credit.

"We're not going away Sunday. It's just a shame but you know, Shaq made his free throws, Kobe [Bryant] made his free throws. They did what they had to do to win the game. We've got to come back with resolve on Sunday....

"I don't think Shaq has changed the way he's played. He'll do the same thing. But that's just the way you feel after a game like this when you have a chance to move on and you didn't do it.

"I don't think we're going to dwell on this. We better not. The seventh game is a different game. We have to get ourselves ready to go. The season's riding now for both teams on the seventh game...."

As Game 5 in Sacramento revolved around O'Neal's foul troubles, this one revolved around the foul troubles of everyone Adelman sent out to guard him.

Shaq went for 41 points and fouled out Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard, obliging Adelman to put Chris Webber and Lawrence Funderburke on him additionally, and, probably to ask for volunteers.

It was a scary game for the Lakers, who played well in the first half, saw O'Neal go for 21 before the intermission, held Mike Bibby to one make in eight shots ... and still trailed by five points, after Divac splashed a three-pointer after the first-half horn sounded.

It was tied going into the fourth quarter, when Shaq, as well as the officials, Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney and Ted Bernhardt, went wild.

O'Neal came into this one averaging 27 points in this series, but only 4.8 of them in the fourth quarter.

Not that the Kings were holding their breath, or wanted to fire him up by saying anything about it.

Well, the slump is over. O'Neal scored 12 points in Friday night's fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Bibby, who had taken over the leadership role for the Kings, before the horrified eyes of the Lakers, was having a rough night. He got several calls early, allowing him to make seven of eight throws, but he didn't get many calls in the fourth quarter, although he was knocked to the floor several times.

"They did a good job on him," Adelman said. "They hounded him. [Derek] Fisher, [Lindsey] Hunter, Kobe at the end.... He still created a lot of havoc out there. You still feel he's going to respond on Sunday."

As tense as Friday night's game, it may look like a romp on the beach compared to the one coming Sunday. Game 7s often turn into choke-a-thons, with players buckling under the waves of pressure.

The Lakers have the advantage of having their Big Two going again, and, after two title runs, they've been under pressure before.

On the other hand, O'Neal has gotten into foul trouble in his last two games at Arco and is weirded-out to the max about the possibility the Kings will flop and draw charges on him.

The Kings have the advantage of being at home, or as Adelman noted wryly, "Well, I'd much rather be playing there than here, that's for sure."

They'd better get Solomon the Wise as the lead official because if the games that preceded Sunday's mean anything, it's not going to be a love-fest.

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