Sacramento 97, L.A. Lakers 91
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 7 (Ticker) --
When the Sacramento Kings collapsed on Shaquille O'Neal, so did the outside game of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers went more than three quarters without a 3-pointer and had their nine-game winning streak snapped in a 97-91 loss to the Kings, who got 25 points from Peja Stojakovic.
Coming off a season-high 46 points against Dallas, O'Neal was his usual unstoppable self in the low post. The 7-2 center made 14-of-23 shots and grabbed 16 rebounds as he overpowered the Kings in the paint.
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Peja Stojakovic and Kings ran by the Lakers.
Sacramento often double- and triple-teamed O'Neal, forcing him to pass to the perimeter to wide-open teammates, who made just 4-of-19 3-pointers. As a result, Los Angeles led just once for 21 seconds and spent most of the game trying to rally.
Meanwhile, the Kings were making their long-distance shots. Led by Stojakovic, Sacramento made 8-of-12 from the arc, including four in the early stages of the fourth quarter, when it opened a 14-point lead.
"We were impatient in the first few quarters, but once we started moving the ball around and rebounding in the fourth quarter, everything went smoothly," said Stojakovic, who had 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Mike Bibby scored 21 points and Doug Christie added 15 for the Kings, who avenged a 93-85 loss at Los Angeles on November 18 and improved to 9-1 at home.
"Out of 18 games, I'll take 16-2 anytime," O'Neal said. "We just have to bounce back and start another streak and we will. This game was bigger to them than us; it's just one game to us."
"I told the team I really think we could play better than that," Kings coach Rick Adelman said.
Christie made 11-of-13 free throws and also played solid defense on Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant, who scored 23 points on just 9-of-23 shooting.
"He always poses problems for me defensively because he is such a good player but I just need to play around him and use my teammates to score," Christie said.
Bryant was 0-of-4 from the arc and Rick Fox was 1-of-5. Derek Fisher was 3-of-7 but all came in the final 3 1/2 minutes when the outcome was all but decided.
"Our threes were ugly tonight," Bryant said. "They weren't falling for us. We had some good looks but they just didn't fall for us tonight."
"I was the Sacramento Kings' best player in the first half because I couldn't make a shot," Fisher said. "If I could have made a couple of shots in the first half, I think we would have been OK."
There was the possibility that Sacramento All-Star forward Chris Webber, who has been out all season with a severely sprained ankle, would make his return in this game. Instead, he sat on the bench in a suit and cheered on his teammates.
A basket by O'Neal gave the Lakers their only lead at 53-52 with 6:45 left in the third quarter. But Los Angeles went scoreless for more than five minutes of the period and Sacramento surged to a 66-56 lead.
Scot Pollard, who has been starting in place of Webber, scored six of his 10 points during that stretch.
The Kings opened the fourth quarter firing away. Bibby made a 3-pointer and Stojakovic answered a pair of baskets by O'Neal with 3-pointers, extending the lead to 75-61 with 7:42 to go.
"They played a good game," Bryant said. "They hit big shots when they needed to. I think the crowd gave them a lot of support."
The Lakers missed their first eight 3-pointers until Rick Fox hit one with 7:16 left.
Sacramento's Hedo Turkoglu made a 3-pointer with 5:24 to play for an 80-68 lead before two baskets by Devean George around a hook by O'Neal halved the deficit with 4:19 remaining.
Stojakovic made two free throws and, after a 3-pointer by Derek Fisher, Bibby made consecutive 20-footers and Stojakovic added two more from the line for an 88-77 advantage with 1:46 left.
"I thought Bibby was really a key tonight for their ballclub," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He was the one who hit critical shots for them down the stretch."
Vlade Divac scored 11 points and Turkoglu added 10 for the Kings, who shot 45 percent (33-of-74) and made 23-of-31 free throws.
Fisher scored 13 points for the Lakers, who shot 40 percent (36-of-90) and held a 49-41 rebounding advantage.
The Kings rode the energy from the sellout crowd of 17,317 and bolted to a 21-8 lead in the first eight minutes. They settled for a 28-19 advantage after one period on Bibby's 10 points.
The Lakers trailed by 14 points early in the second quarter but fought back for a 41-41 tie on O'Neal's free throw with 2:49 to go. Stojakovic answered with a 3-pointer and the Kings rebuilt the lead to 48-43 at halftime.