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Lakers have no home security

Last-place Kings come right in, shoot 52.7% and steal away with a 116-108 victory. It is L.A.'s sixth loss in seven games at Staples Center.

March 03, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Add another unsettling piece of uncertainty for the Lakers.

Their struggles against losing teams have been well-documented, but an additional pattern has popped up in recent weeks -- an inability to win home games.

Friday night brought a little of both, the punchless Sacramento Kings playing at Staples Center, and the results looking to be more of the same.

The Lakers' defense was utterly deflated, giving up 92 points through three quarters, and a sixth loss in the last seven home games became official after a 116-108 setback against Sacramento.

There have already been losses to Portland (twice), Charlotte (twice), New York, Seattle, Memphis and Milwaukee, so it really wasn't overly surprising when the Kings (26-32) crawled out of the Pacific Division cellar with a victory, although it did end the Lakers' three-game winning streak.

The Lakers had plenty of scorers -- even Aaron McKie had 12 points -- but so did the Kings, the beginning and end of the problems for the home team.

The Lakers were 24th in the league in scoring defense before Friday, giving up 101.8 points a game, and it was obvious to all that there are still issues to be resolved, even after an uplifting, defense-driven victory earlier in the week at Utah.

There were even some boos in the last two minutes of the second quarter, and again in the final minute of the third quarter. The Lakers trailed at halftime, 65-48, and after the third quarter, 92-74.

Toward the end of it all, as the Lakers faded away, Coach Phil Jackson sat back in his chair, arms crossed and a look of disbelief on his face.

"We can do that all the way through the season," Jackson said. "That's what .500 teams do. We're not a .500 team, but we're playing like one."

This was not how they wanted to leave L.A. for a four-game trip against Phoenix, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Their game Sunday against the Suns would have been an intriguing state-of-the-program update, but the Lakers can't even make statements at home these days.

The Lakers did get back Kwame Brown, who missed 27 games because of a severely sprained left ankle, but he wasn't much of a help, going scoreless and taking three rebounds in 20 minutes.

Maurice Evans didn't play because of a bruised right knee, and Lamar Odom sustained a left shoulder injury after being fouled by Sacramento center Brad Miller with 2:47 to play. He didn't leave the game immediately, but he will undergo an MRI exam today.

Brown was back Friday, but not Luke Walton, who sat out his 16th game because of a sprained right ankle. He underwent an MRI exam Friday, with the results to be interpreted Monday by the specialist.

"It feels good walking and then I try to play basketball, and I just can't," Walton said. "Cutting and jumping, I can't do."

As for the game, Kobe Bryant had 30 points and 10 assists, and Odom had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, but the Kings also had notable efforts.

Mike Bibby had 33 points, Kevin Martin had 20 and Ron Artest had 19. The Kings also received 12 points from a couple of bench players, Corliss Williamson and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

It's getting redundant to say, but the Lakers' defense again did them in. The Kings started out on a 10-0 run and, by the end, after all the uncontested layups and converted pick-and-rolls, had made 52.7% of their shots.

"We think we make one step forward and we make two steps back in that department," Jackson said.

The Lakers were sloppy with the ball, finishing with 19 turnovers. Jackson wasn't thrilled with the officiating, either, after the Kings made 29 of 37 free throws, the Lakers 19 of 21.

"The referees bought into a lot of that flopping stuff that was going on out there," he said. "There were way too many foul shots, particularly in the first half."

*

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

*

Begin text of infobox

Then and now

Kobe Bryant and Mike Bibby are the only holdovers from the 2002 Western Conference finals that went seven games:

*--* LAKERS

*--*

D. Fisher plays for Utah

R. Fox retired in 2004

R. Horry plays for San Antonio

S. O'Neal plays for Miami

L. Hunter plays for Detroit

B. Shaw Lakers assistant coach

D. George plays for Dallas

S. Medvedenko plays for Atlanta

S. Walker plays in Russia

M. Madsen plays for Minnesota

M. Richmond scout for Golden State

*--* SACRAMENTO

*--*

D. Christie retired over All-Star break

C. Webber plays for Detroit

H. Turkoglu plays for Orlando

V. Divac retired in 2005

P. Stojakovic plays for New Orleans

B. Jackson plays for New Orleans

S. Pollard plays for Cleveland

C. Brown retired in 2002

G. Wallace plays for Charlotte

M. Cleaves plays for Bakersfield Jam

L. Funderburke retired in 2005

*

Sources: basketballreference.com, news reports and Los Angeles Times

--

KEYS TO THE GAME

* The Lakers' defense was substandard yet again. The Kings had 37 points in the first quarter, 28 in the second, 27 in the third and 24 in the fourth.

* Every starter for the Kings made at least half of his shots, with the exception of Kevin Martin, who made seven of 15.

* Veteran reserve forwards Corliss Williamson and Shareef Abdur-Rahim wore down the Lakers' big men with 12 points each.

-- MIKE BRESNAHAN

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