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Lakers work extra long to beat Kings

It takes double overtime for L.A. to pick up a win behind Kobe Bryant's three-point shooting and 38 points.

December 27, 2009|By Mike Bresnahan

Reporting from Sacramento — The Lakers endured a rough Christmas, undoubtedly, with a ragged loss to Cleveland, a foam-finger flingfest by fans, and a head injury suffered by Ron Artest later at home.

Dec. 26 wasn't quite so hard on them thanks to a pair of well-timed three-point baskets by Kobe Bryant.

It wasn't easy, but it wasn't another loss, the Lakers beating back the feisty Sacramento Kings in double overtime, 112-103, Saturday at Arco Arena.

Bryant was more efficient, scoring 38 points on 16-for-30 shooting after a wild 11-for-32 shooting effort against Cleveland. He made two three-pointers in double overtime, one from the right side with 3 minutes 36 seconds left and another from the top with 2:40 left to give the Lakers all the cushion they would need.

The Kings couldn't answer. The Lakers (24-5) had ended their losing streak at one.

Before it was over, Bryant suffered an injury of his own, a strained right elbow after being hit on his funny bone near the end of the third quarter. After a routine shot that ended up an airball, Bryant began flexing his arm in pain, went back to the locker room for treatment and came back a few minutes into the fourth quarter, conducting on-court business primarily with his left hand.

His three-pointers in the second overtime, however, were right-handed. And deadly accurate.

"I think he was staring to get some feeling back in it," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said, smiling slightly. "Once he got the feeling back, he was all right."

Not quite.

Bryant said afterward he still couldn't feel his right elbow.

"I couldn't bring it back, cock it and shoot it like I normally do," he said. "I just kind of had to change it up a little bit, knocked a couple down. The moment came for me to step up and knock down a shot and the defender relaxed. He had his hands down, gave me a good look at it, I squared up and knocked it down."

It all happened without Artest, who remained in Los Angeles after suffering a concussion by falling down a flight of stairs at home on Christmas night, according to the team and Artest's agent.

Artest needed stitches to the back of his head and also injured his left elbow in the fall. He might play Monday against Phoenix, Jackson said, though Lamar Odom took his spot Saturday in the starting lineup.

The Lakers had a chance to win in regulation, but Gasol missed two free throws with 23.3 seconds left and the score tied, 94-94. Bryant, however, poked the ball away from Tyreke Evans as the rookie guard tried to drive on him with the game clock winding down. Bryant grabbed the loose ball and shook his head at the rookie's attempt. Bryant then wagged his finger as he walked to the Lakers' bench, the fourth quarter ending with the score tied.

It was the Kings who had the chance to take the first overtime.

In a wild final few seconds, Bryant was way off on a three-point attempt, then Derek Fisher was off on a short follow-up, but Gasol was there for a tip-in with 0.4 of a second left, tying the score, 101-101. Evans couldn't get off a shot as the first overtime expired.

Gasol had 24 points and six blocked shots.

The Lakers definitely fared better than in their 102-87 loss to the Cavaliers, the sting of it still lingering in the air a day after the fact.

"They physically took us out of the game," Jackson said before Saturday's game. "They made Andrew [Bynum] be small and Pau be timid and those are our strengths as a basketball team, to go inside."

Someone assumed Jackson was able to put it behind him.

"Think I slept [Friday] night after that game?" he said. "That's a tough assumption. It wasn't easy."

The Lakers had their issues without Artest. The curious case of Bynum continued Saturday, his latest line showing three points on one-for-nine shooting in nearly 37 minutes. He had nine rebounds.

It was a festive atmosphere, one of the Maloof brothers even tossing Kings T-shirts into the crowd in the fourth quarter.

In the end, the Lakers were the ones smiling. On to Phoenix they went.

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