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Kings are a royal pain for the Lakers

Sacramento takes a 20-point lead and holds off L.A, 100-95. Kobe Bryant scores 38 points to become No. 8 on the all-time list.

January 28, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers forward Lamar Odom reacts after being called for a foul against Sacramento in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Lakers forward Lamar Odom reacts after being called for a foul against Sacramento… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Bring on Boston?

The Lakers made the mistake of tuning out their tune-up game two days before the big one, falling to the lowly Sacramento Kings, 100-95, after a late rally failed to materialize Friday at Staples Center.

They were sluggish, they were sloppy, they looked nothing like a team that was ready for a regular-season rematch of the NBA Finals.

Boston didn't fare much better Friday, losing to Phoenix, 88-71, though at least the Celtics were on the road against a team with playoff aspirations.

The Kings, on the other hand, came into Friday with a 4-16 road record and 10-33 overall record.

All they did was take a 20-point lead in the third quarter on the way to pounding the Lakers in the paint, 50-36.

Rookie center DeMarcus Cousins had 27 points and backup center Samuel Dalembert had 18 points as the Kings exposed the Lakers down low.

Were the Lakers looking ahead to Boston?

"I can't explain it," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I'm not going to try."

Other than Kobe Bryant (38 points, 13-for-27 shooting) and Shannon Brown (17 points, seven-for-11 shooting), the Lakers' individual statistics were a basketball graveyard.

Lamar Odom missed all seven of his shots and had four points. Pau Gasol had a quiet nine points on four-of-11 shooting. Ron Artest faded after a handful of solid games, scoring four points and sitting out the entire fourth quarter.

The story, though, was the Lakers' surprising lack of defense, particularly down low.

Andrew Bynum stood up and took the blame.

"We didn't even come out and defend the way we should have, myself in particular," he said. "In the first half, I kind of disrespected Cousins and he got off to a blazing start. You can't do that in the NBA. Can't take a night off defensively."

Bryant had 26 points at halftime, but Cousins had 22 as the Kings led, 59-55. Dalembert came into the night averaging five points a game but made eight of 12 shots.

"Their big guys came out and really took it [to] our guys, and carried the day for their team," Jackson said.

The Lakers appeared to have momentum after Odom spun baseline and dropped the ball off to Gasol for a dunk, bringing them within 93-89 with 3:18 to play.

But they short-circuited on their next four possessions, Gasol making one of two free-throw attempts, Gasol having the ball stripped on a shot down low, Brown missing a three-point attempt and Bryant missing one too.

The Lakers (33-14) were supposed to have solved their little problem of losing to sub.-500 teams at home (See: Milwaukee, Indiana, Memphis).

Then came Friday.

Jackson tried to sound an alarm before the game, saying the Kings "always give us a good game, usually here, and we have to struggle and fight."

He was right.

The Lakers tried to ignore their upcoming showdown with Boston, Derek Fisher even putting teammates under a gag order, telling them not to talk about the Celtics until after Friday's game.

But the Lakers' only memorable moment Friday was Bryant passing Hakeem Olajuwon for eighth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

He had other things on his mind.

"We've still got work to do," Bryant said.

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