LOS ANGELES, April 17 (Ticker) --
In a game of playoff poker, the
Sacramento Kings threw in their hand, allowing the Los Angeles
Lakers to win with a pair of aces.
The league-best Kings sat Chris Webber
and rested their regulars
in a 109-95 loss to the Lakers, who wrapped up the third seed
in the Western Conference behind 21 points apiece from Shaquille
O'Neal and Kobe Bryant
"I don't think the Lakers were playing their full effort and I
don't think we were playing our full effort," Kings forward Scot
said. "It was just kind of a game to get the season
over with, keep both teams healthy and get ready for the
Having clinched the NBA's top record and home-court advantage
throughout the playoffs, the Kings (61-21) have taken it easy in
the season's final week. They rested their starters in
Sunday's home loss to Dallas and did the same in this one.
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Shaquille O'Neal, as usual, did what he wanted to inside.
"We've played very well," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We
finished winning 11 of 13, won the division and got the best
record. That was our goal. I'm happy that we're going to be
healthy going into the playoffs as well."
Webber sat out with a sprained right thumb and no other starter
played more than 24 minutes. Lawrence Funderburke
Webber and scored 15 points.
The Lakers had something to play for -- the second-best record
in the West, which would give them home-court advantage against
every team except the Kings. Superstars O'Neal and Bryant each
played 29 minutes and made sure their team got it.
"Both teams (were) sparring, not really fighting and duking it
out," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "The night was about
playing the game, finishing the season, doing what we have to
do, which was winning the game."
By finishing 58-24, the Lakers tied the San Antonio Spurs for
the second-best record. The Spurs won the Midwest Division and
will be seeded second, but the Lakers hold the tiebreaker and
would have the home-court edge should the teams meet in the
For now, the two-time defending champion Lakers will open
against the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, whom they have
eliminated each of the last two seasons.
"They have always been a tough team for us to play," Lakers
guard Derek Fisher
said. "We've played them several times in
the playoffs and we don't expect to see anything different or
for this year to be more or less difficult. It always has been
a tough series and we match up with each other pretty well."
Fisher scored 16 points and Samaki Walker
added 11 and 15
rebounds for the Lakers, who lost forward Robert Horry
abdominal strain. Horry's status for the playoff opener is
"We won't think about that until it's a reality," Jackson said.
"But you know it's important for us to get Rob back."
Bryant's jumper beat the halftime buzzer and gave the Lakers the
lead for good at 56-54. He scored 11 points in the third
quarter, helping Los Angeles build its lead to 87-76 entering
the final period. The reserves played most of the fourth
quarter for both teams.
"I think it was important for the second team to get in there
and build up some type of rhythm, so when the playoffs come
around they feel comfortable with their game," Bryant said.
scored 15 points and third-string point guard Mateen
added 13 for the Kings.