L.A. Lakers 106, Sacramento 99
SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 18 (Ticker) --
The Los Angeles Lakers'
victory tour shows no signs of slowing down.
scored 30 points and Shaquille O'Neal
added 26 as
the Lakers extended their road playoff winning streak to 12
games with a 106-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings in the
opener of the Western Conference finals.
Los Angeles never trailed in claiming home-court advantage in
the best-of-seven series. Bryant did most of his damage in the
first half with 16 points and O'Neal had a huge third quarter
"We had a great rhythm going," Bryant said. "The challenge of
playing against Sacramento and not having home-court advantage
and then our execution, improving steadily and then to get to
this point and knock down shots in the first quarter feels
Kobe Bryant was dicing through the Kings all game long, but was really huge in the first half.
O'Neal dunked 3 1/2 minutes into the game for a 13-4 lead as the
Lakers established control early. Los Angeles made nine of its
first 10 shots, capped by a jumper by Rick Fox
that made it
19-10. Bryant stole the ball from Mike Bibby
and threw down a
one-handed slam for a 36-22 lead after one quarter.
Sacramento pulled within five points four times in the final two
minutes, but Los Angeles had an answer each time. Bryant made
four free throws and Derek Fisher
sank 2-of-4 in the last
"We were able to answer every call in the second half," Lakers
coach Phil Jackson said. "We were relying on Shaq and Kobe in
the course of the closing minutes."
collected 28 points and 14 rebounds for Sacramento,
which fell to just 3-3 at Arco Arena in the playoffs. The
Kings had the NBA's best home record during the season at 36-5.
The crowd at Arco Arena reached noise levels as high as 112
decibels, but it did not faze the two-time defending champions
after their quick start. Los Angeles shot 67 percent (16-of-24)
in the opening quarter by using unselfish play, registering 11
"I think we're a better team on the road," O'Neal said. "We
have played in all types of hostile arenas. My guys get pumped
up when they're challenged."
"It was a really tough first quarter," Sacramento coach Rick
Adelman said. "It's really difficult to get yourself down 10-12
points with that team."
The Kings played without All-Star forward Peja Stojakovic
is expected to miss Game Two with a sprained right ankle. Hedo
got the start in Stojakovic's place, missed all eight
shots and did not score.
"I need to come out and play better on Monday," Turkoglu said.
"I need to be more aggressive and put some points on the board
for my team."
Bryant made 12-of-26 shots and added six rebounds and five
assists for the Lakers. They also got a boost from Robert
, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
"I know that if I hit my first shot and then my second, then I'm
going to have a good shooting night," Horry said. "I play the
same type of ball all year long, people just tend to notice it
more in the playoffs."
Sacramento got strong games from its point guard combination of
Bibby and Bobby Jackson
, who combined for 30 points. But the
free-wheeling Kings, normally one of the league's deadliest
perimeter teams, made just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc without
Former Laker Vlade Divac
collected 12 points and 11 rebounds.
He had made comments before the game that Los Angeles could not
win the title without home-court advantage, a curious statement
considering the Lakers' winning ways on the road.
"Obviously, we put ourselves in a big situation in the first
quarter," Divac said. "I am not really happy with the tempo of
the game at the beginning."
Bibby made two free throws and former Laker Doug Christie
layup to pull the Kings within 95-89 with just over four
minutes to go in the fourth quarter. O'Neal had been held
scoreless in the final period but responded with a three-point
play for a nine-point cushion.
Sacramento climbed to 98-93 on an acrobatic layup by Jackson
with just over two minutes to play. Fisher missed a 3-pointer
and the rebound was headed to Webber. O'Neal appeared to go
over the back in tipping the ball to Horry, who had an easy
"You just have to credit them for stepping up," Webber said. "I
have faith in our team, and we need to take it one day at a
Christie fouled out with 13 points for Sacramento, which got
into foul trouble trying to contain O'Neal. Webber and Divac
each committed five fouls.