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Bibby Shows a Different Side

June 01, 2002|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sacramento King point guard Mike Bibby finally showed a human side Friday.

Bibby missed open shots, lost control of the basketball, lost track of his defensive assignment and failed to find an open teammate more than once during Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at Staples Center.

Near the end, with the Lakers poised to even the series, Bibby's nose was bloodied by Kobe Bryant's elbow as the Laker guard broke away from Bibby toward an inbounds pass with 11.8 seconds left.

Bryant could easily have been whistled for a foul against Bibby in the 106-102 Laker victory. Bryant made two free throws that gave the Lakers a 105-102 lead. Bibby then missed a three-point attempt that could have tied the score, 105-105, with 2.4 seconds to play.

"I tried to deny him the ball," Bibby said when asked to describe one of several pivotal plays late in the game. "The next thing I knew, I got hit and was on the floor, so I don't know [what happened]."

Bruised but unbowed, Bibby vowed to improve his play Sunday for Game 7 at Arco Arena. The Kings lost Game 6 by four points, and there was no sense for Bibby to fret about missing 13 of 20 shots, including seven of eight in the first half.

Plus, Bibby said his nose was not broken.

"They said it wasn't broken, so I guess I'm OK," Bibby said after scoring 23 points, taking four rebounds and passing for three assists in 41 minutes.

"I still think he caused problems for the Lakers," King Coach Rick Adelman said. "They hounded him. They had [Derek] Fisher, [Lindsey] Hunter, [Brian] Shaw and Kobe on him, but he still created a lot of havoc out there. You've got to feel he'll respond Sunday. He has all along."

In fact, the Lakers played Bibby tighter than at any point in the series. Hunter did the most badgering, entering the game after Fisher got his second foul with 6:17 left in the first quarter.

At times, Laker Coach Phil Jackson alternated his defensive assignments, running Bryant at Bibby on one Sacramento trip down the floor and Fisher checking him on the next. If Bibby's poor shooting was any indication, the tactic worked.

Bibby has consistently outplayed Fisher, having increased his scoring average from 13.7 points during the regular season to 21.7 against the Lakers. He is averaging 19.7 in his first playoffs.

"We got him off his game in the first quarter," Jackson said. "He hit some big shots in the second half. He found a way to have an impact during the course of the game."

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