L.A. Lakers 100, Sacramento 99
LOS ANGELES, May 26 (Ticker) -- Robert Horry
may have saved the Los Angeles
Lakers' season. Luck put the ball in Horry's
hands. Championship experience took over from there
Horry's 3-pointer at the buzzer capped a comeback from a
24-point deficit and gave the Los Angeles Lakers a season-saving
100-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings that evened the
Western Conference finals at two games each.
The two-time defending champion Lakers had fought back but still
trailed, 99-97, after Vlade Divac
made 1-of-2 free throws with
11 seconds left. They inbounded to Kobe Bryant
, who drove right
and went up for a shot that was challenged by the 7-foot Divac.
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Shaquille O'Neal got himself to the free throw line, and made all six of his attempts in the fourth.
Bryant's miss was rebounded on the other side of the basket by
, whose follow shot also was challenged by Divac
and missed. The clock was winding down and Divac batted the
ball away from the basket.
"I think I got a hand up in (O'Neal's) face and contributed to
helping his miss," Kings forward Chris Webber
tipped the ball out, something at that time I probably would
have done, all of us would've done, I'm sure."
"I'm next to Vlade, who is trying to tap the ball out -- doing
the smartest thing possible -- and I look out and see Rob,"
Lakers forward Rick Fox
The ball bounded to the top of the 3-point circle to Horry, who
gathered it and fired a shot over a charging Webber that banged
in at the horn, sending the sellout crowd of 18,997 at the
Staples Center into delirium.
"You cannot think in a situation like that," Horry said. "A lot
of guys, when the ball is coming, sit there and look at the
clock, then it makes you rush your shot. I was like, `If I
don't get it off in time, we lose. If I do, it's money.' I was
just worried about getting my form and getting my money shot
The shot stunned the Kings, who were a bounce of the ball away
from pushing the Lakers to the brink of elimination.
"It's the luckiest thing I've ever seen in my life," Kings
forward Hedo Turkoglu
said. "Vlade hit the ball and it went
straight into his hands and he was wide-open. The whole game,
he was going for offensive boards, but at that moment he was
waiting right there. You could never see this type of game in
Even some of the Lakers admitted they were quite fortunate to
have won. Their only other lead was 2-0, and they held it for
all of 13 seconds.
"It was a blessed day for us," O'Neal said. "Thank God for
Robert. Thank God his father met his mother, too."
"That's a victory from the jaws of defeat," coach Phil Jackson
added. "That was an incredible finish. And I didn't draw it up
like that, so don't ask me."
Webber had perhaps the best description.
"That was a lucky play, a fumble out of the inside to the
outside," Webber said. "Now Horry shooting it wasn't lucky.
That's a big shot. I have to give him credit. That's a
big-time player, but that was a lucky play."
"A luck shot is one of those guys who has no form," Horry said.
"If you look at the shot, it was straight form. He shouldn't
have tipped it out there. It wasn't a luck shot. I have been
doing that for all my career. He should know."
Horry is a member of four NBA championship teams. While with
Houston, he matched the NBA Finals record with five 3-pointers
in a quarter. Over the last two years with Los Angeles, he has
made a game-clinching 3-pointer in four straight series.
The 6-10 forward made a dagger in Game 3 of the 2001 Finals
against Philadelphia, won Game 3 of the first round at
Portland and sealed Game 5 of the conference semifinals
against San Antonio. But this one had some special meaning.
"It is top two," Horry said. "The one in Philly, the one in
Portland, they are all great shots. It's like asking me which
kid I love the best. You love them all."
"He's poised, he's calm and he has a steel will," Jackson said.
"He's a player who doesn't fluster in critical situations.
He's going to be under control and have his wits about him."
Horry's shot allowed the Lakers to keep their wits. Had they
lost, they would have had to win three straight games against
the only team that did not lose three in a row this season.
Game 5 is Tuesday in Sacramento.
"I honestly believe we'll have enough resiliency to get back in
that game," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We have to because
now the momentum shifts. They had a huge win and I'm sure
they're confident now, but we've got to respond, and I'm pretty
sure I know the answer."
O'Neal had 27 points and 18 rebounds, Bryant scored 25 points
and Horry added 18 and 14 boards for the Lakers, who pounded the
offensive glass for 25 rebounds.
Divac scored 23 points, Mike Bibby
added 21, Webber 20 and
Turkoglu 18 and 12 boards for the Kings, who shot 49 percent
(38-of-78) from the field.
The first quarter was an instant replay of Game Three, when the
Kings quickly took control. This time, they shot 71 percent
(15-of-21) and sped to a 40-20 lead behind 10 points apiece from
Bibby and Divac.
A 3-pointer by Doug Christie
extended the margin to 46-22 before
LA began to fight back behind Bryant, who scored 13 points in
the second period. The second 3-pointer of Samaki Walker's
career beat the buzzer and pulled the Lakers within 65-51.
The Kings had their lead cut to 80-73 entering the final period,
when Horry scored 11 points. His two free throws and 3-pointer
made it 88-84 with 6:31 to go, and another 3-pointer answered a
jumper by Turkoglu and pulled LA within 96-93 with 1:39 left.
Divac sank a long jumper with 1:17 to play, but Bryant threw in
a floater in the lane. After Christie missed an open 3-pointer
with 39 seconds to go, O'Neal drew a foul and made two free
throws with 26 seconds left. He was 9-of-13 from the line,
including 5-of-6 in the final period.
"Those were clutch baskets," Bryant said. "He always says he'll
hit them when the money's on the line, and he did that
So did Horry.