SACRAMENTO, Calif, May 28 (Ticker) --
The biggest shot of Mike
career has the Sacramento Kings one win from the NBA
Bibby's 18-footer with 8.2 seconds left gave the Kings an
emotional 92-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and a 3-2
lead in the Western Conference finals.
missed a last-second jumper for the Lakers, the
two-time defending NBA champions who are on the verge of
elimination. Their first chance to stay alive is Friday at Los
The Kings trailed, 91-88, with less than a minute to go when
Bibby drew a foul and made both free throws. Bryant had his
shot blocked at the other end, and the Kings nearly turned it
over before the Lakers knocked it out of bounds on the baseline
with 11.4 seconds left.
Mike Bibby, who scored seven in the fourth, including the Kings' final four, has enjoyed shredding the Lakers' D.|
Sacramento coach Rick Adelman called timeout and set up a play
with Bibby inbounding the ball. Vlade Divac
set a pick to free
, who took the inbounds pass and and laid a crushing
pick on Derek Fisher
"That was specially designed to get the ball into Mike's hands
because he is such a great decision-maker and he very rarely
makes a bad decision out of bounds," Kings coach Rick Adelman
said. "We just wanted him to hit Webb and come off and see
what's there. We were going to have shooters out on the floor
and let him make the decision."
"I figured that they would switch, but Chris set a good pick,"
Bibby curled above Webber, took a return pass and nailed an open
jumper from the right wing.
"Coach drew it up and I told Chris that if he hands the ball off
to me, I was going to make it and he said that he was going to
hand it off to me, so my confidence was high and I shot it with
confidence," Bibby said.
With Shaquille O'Neal
having fouled out, the Lakers went to
Bryant. He tried to dribble past the shorter Bobby Jackson
briefly poked the ball away. Bryant rushed a shot from the
right side that bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded,
bringing another deafening roar from the Arco Arena crowd.
Bryant thought he was fouled on the play.
"There is no need for me to comment on that. You guys saw the
replay," he said. "We'll take the one-point defeat, go home and
win the next game."
Jackson was guarding Bryant because Doug Christie
had fouled out
with 3:14 to play. Bryant scored quickly on a jumper but missed
his last four shots.
"We played a good game without Shaq out there for about six
minutes," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He had about five
good looks, we had good opportunities, but they didn't go in for
Bibby scored seven of his 23 points in the final six minutes.
In his first postseason, the fourth-year point guard has been
outstanding, making a handful of clutch shots. But none were
bigger than this one.
Webber had 29 points and 13 rebounds for the Kings, who have not
been to the Finals since 1951, when they won their only title
as the Rochester Royals. Since then, they have changed cities
three times and nicknames once.
"I've never been to this level before, but coach has," Webber
said. "Coach Adelman told us after the game to be focused and
to take this opportunity to take every chance that you can to
close out this series. We feel good but regardless of how we
feel, we have to be ready for Friday night."
This is the closest the Lakers have been to elimination since
Game 7 of the 2000 conference finals against Portland, when
they rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit.
"We'd much rather be up 3-2, but that doesn't matter," Bryant
said. "We've been faced with elimination before. When you're
faced with adversity, we'll see what is important."
"We just need to regroup and refocus and come out hungry on
Friday," O'Neal said. "We just have to step up to the challenge
and force it to a Game 7."
Bryant scored 30 points but made just 11-of-29 shots while
committing five turnovers and five fouls. O'Neal scored 28
points on 14-of-18 shooting but fouled out with 3:22 left. Once
again, they carried the offense for Los Angeles and got very
"I was 14-of-18 tonight and only got to the free throw line once
tonight," O'Neal said. "I got into foul trouble and really did
play that long. I was trying to play aggressive, trying to play
hard, but got a couple of silly fouls and I don't think that it
was anything that their defense was doing."
And with O'Neal going scoreless in the final period, the Lakers
became a one-man team. After Bibby's steal and layup, Bryant
spun for a baseline jumper and made two free throws to give LA
an 85-80 lead with 4:54 left.
Christie and Webber drove for layups before Bibby drew O'Neal's
fifth foul. His free throw tied it with 3:14 remaining. A
free throw by Webber gave the Kings an 88-87 lead with 2:23 to
play, but Bryant answered 12 seconds later with a baseline
jumper over Jackson.
Bryant missed jumpers on consecutive possessions. Samaki Walker
rebounded the second and sank two free throws for a 91-88 lead
with 59 seconds to go. Before Sacramento's final possession,
Bryant had a drive smothered by Jackson and Divac.
Fox scored 16 points and Game 4 hero Robert Horry
rebounds for the Lakers, who shot 45 percent (35-of-78) and
again won the battle of the boards, 42-39.
Divac and Hedo Turkoglu
scored 13 points each for the Kings, who
shot 47 percent (34-of-72) but hurt themselves by missing 11
free throws, including all five in the third quarter.
Kings All-Star forward Peja Stojakovic
returned after missing
six games with a right ankle sprain. He missed all three of his
shots and scored just two points in 18 minutes off the bench.
The Lakers got off to a quick start for a change, shooting 65
percent (15-of-23) in the first quarter and racing to a 33-27
lead. O'Neal scored 12 points but committed two fouls.
Stojakovic came on with 2:45 left in the opening period and
received a rousing ovation. He contributed very little, but the
Kings still charged to the lead in the second quarter as the
Lakers went more than eight minutes without a basket.
O'Neal sat down with his third foul with 5:47 left and Los Angeles
trailing, 38-37. Sacramento held a 51-46 halftime lead behind 16
points from Webber.
O'Neal and Bryant were whistled for their fourth fouls 92
seconds apart early in the third quarter. They remained in the
game and helped the Lakers turn a nine-point deficit into a
74-73 lead entering the final period. O'Neal scored 16 points
in the quarter, 12 on dunks.