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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Sacramento Kings 35 21 34 23 113
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 24 19 31 22 96
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Kings beat resting Lakers 113-96 in season finale

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ


Posted Apr 26 2012 10:00PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points and 19 rebounds, Tyreke Evans scored 17 points and the Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers' backups 113-96 Thursday night in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Kobe Bryant sat out along with four other Lakers' starters, conceding the NBA scoring title to Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. He needed 38 points to boost his average above Durant's 28 points per game.

Instead, Bryant decided to rest up for another championship chase. Los Angeles opens its first-round playoff series Sunday at home against Denver.

Sacramento finished 22-44 in the lockout-shortened season. At the very least, Kings fans have the promise of the franchise staying in the city next year - but nothing more.

The atmosphere in Sacramento had a remarkably different feel than last season's Lakers-Kings finale.

At that game on April 13, 2011, the Kings seemed destine to relocate to Anaheim. Many fans, arena workers and team personnel cried. A few thousand stayed in protest - shouting "Here we stay!" - for almost an hour after the game, and players returned to the floor to thank them all in what felt like goodbye.

In many ways, little else has changed.

The Maloof family that owns the Kings backed out of a tentative $391 million deal for a new arena with the city. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the owners are again talking, with another meeting scheduled Friday, but the future offers no guarantee.

Brothers George and Joe Maloof sat courtside for the finale instead of leaving the seats to Lakers fans as the family did a year ago. Johnson sat across from the visitor's bench, and it was an otherwise normal night from the announced crowd of 16,281.

While the doom and gloom of the town's only professional team leaving has somewhat subsided with the Kings promising to stay next season, it still lingers until a deal is signed and a new arena is constructed.

The Lakers are in quite a different mix.

Phil Jackson is gone, and Mike Brown is ready for his first playoff run as Los Angeles' coach. With a roster recovering from injuries and Metta World Peace serving the first of his seven-game suspension for elbowing Thunder guard James Harden in the head, nobody quite knows what to expect in the postseason from this Lakers lineup.

The second string they sent out in Sacramento had no chance.

Josh McRoberts had 16 points and nine rebounds and Ramon Sessions scored 14 to lead Los Angeles, also playing without Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in game that was never close - or contested.

Sacramento led 35-21 in the final seconds of the first quarter until Sessions - the only regular Lakers starter in the lineup - swished a 3-pointer in front of a charging Jimmer Fredette. The Kings built a 56-39 lead in the second quarter during a spurt highlighted by Terrence Williams' one-handed slam over Jordan Hill, and the rest was a formality.

And exactly why Bryant decided to rest.

Bryant, who missed seven games with a bruised left shin before playing the previous two, averaged 27.9 points per game while playing 58 games this season. Durant won the scoring title for the third straight year while playing all 66 contests, capping the regular season with 32 points in a win over the Kings a night earlier that forced Bryant to respond big in Sacramento.

Already an NBA MVP, two-time scoring champion and winner of five NBA titles, Bryant has bigger goals to chase at age 33.

That time starts Sunday.

NOTES: Lakers F Matt Barnes (sprained right ankle) also sat out. Brown said he wasn't sure Barnes would be ready for the playoff opener. ... Kings veteran John Salmons missed his 15th straight game with sore hip.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Lakers take on the Dallas Mavericks Sunday, April 15th at Staples Center at 12:30PM. Catch all the action on Fox Sports West, ABC, and 710ESPN.



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View More Photos
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Points McRoberts 16
Rebounds McRoberts 9, 2 OFF 7 DEF
Assists Blake 6
Steals Hill 3
Blocks 3 tied with 1
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

On Tonights Game
“Tonight we didn’t get back into transition defense and of course we rested a lot of our guys, but we better not do that when the playoffs began. They (Sacramento) have a nice young team and maybe if they get a savvy veteran or two, we will be talking about them in the playoffs as well.”

On playing Denver in the first round of the playoffs
“I know that Coach (George) Karl will tell his team to push the ball in transition and that will basically make them not have to go against our set defense. I know we are big inside, but they have some big guys in Kosta (Koufos), JaVale (McGee) and (Kenneth) Faried. We just have to go and play our game against them and not get out of our game plan. They are very versatile and they will make us play hard. We just have to make sure that offensively we move the ball from one side of the court to the other. We have to make sure that when our shots go up we have all of our guys attack the rim.”

On resting players Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum
“You want to be as healthy as possible especially going into the postseason because the competition is better and you are going to have to rely on your main core more during the playoffs. Our guys are in the right frame health-wise, and hopefully we can go into the playoffs with the right frame of mind and not let anybody outwork us.”




Ramon Sessions:

Kobe sitting out…
“He definitely put the team first. Sunday is when it starts over.”

Being short-handed tonight…
“There were ups and downs. They came out and played hard. We knew we were short-handed tonight but guys got some playing time that usually don’t play. Hopefully that can help out in the long run during the playoffs. You never know what could happen. Guys are getting the experience.”

Only regular starting tonight…
“I was fine with it. I’m new to the team. I still have some wrinkles that I can get out. It was good getting out there and playing with the guys.”




Kobe Bryant:

Playing against Denver in the playoffs…
“They all do because they move the ball extremely well. All of their positions are interchangeable so you really have to focus on each guy.”

You, Bynum and Gasol having a week off…
“It gives us an opportunity to be healthy. I feel great because of the seven games I had out.”

Boost of confidence after beating OKC…
“I think it does in the sense of we had to come back from being 18 points down. We haven’t had a game like that against a quality opponent. In the playoffs you are going to be in situations that are demanding like that. You’re down 17 or 15 points at halftime or the third quarter. You have to find a way to dig yourself out of that hole.”

Confidence going into the postseason…
“The group that we have and our versatility and our size and our ability to defend multiple positions and control the tempo -- those are championship qualities.”




Jimmer Fredette:

On the season in terms of their expectations:
“It’s all about just a learning process, getting better. Having a really young team with this short and condensed season we just didn’t get off to a great start and that’s what hurts you, especially in short seasons. I felt like we’re continuing to get better, getting to know each other more as a group but it’s all about this offseason now and working as hard as we can to get back and be better next year.”

On what he learned this season and how hungry it makes him this offseason:
“Obviously just being a competitive person I want to come back and be able to be a better player for this team next year. Be able to go out and make this team better and help us reach where we want to go and then get to the playoffs. That’s something that we’re striving for and I’ll work as hard as I can this offseason. That’s something that’s always great – there’s always next season. So you’re able to work as hard as you can in the offseason and try to get better, get better individually so I’m looking forward to it.”

When asked what his biggest areas of improvement will be for next year:
“A couple different things – just continue to work on point guard things, screen and roll things, keeping my dribble alive, getting the shot up a little bit quicker, working on floaters and everything. So those types of things to help me get better…you can always improve and get even better.”




Tyreke Evans:

On the approach for the game with the limited Lakers lineup:
“Just to play all 48 minutes – we didn’t just want to let them come here and beat us – that was the plan. So coach just told us to play hard, get the win and let’s get out of here so that’s what we did.”

When asked how he’s feeling to be done with another season:
“It was a quick season but it was also different. I don’t think we were prepared for those games, they were coming back-to-back and one after another. We’ve just got to be prepared next year for 82 and just come in here and work extra hard and get better on our game.”




Isaiah Thomas:

On the end of his rookie season:
“It’s definitely hard – I feel like I just started; I feel like it was just training camp the other week. It was hard, it went by fast. Everybody said it does go by fast and enjoy it while it lasts. I’m just mad that it’s ended already.” When asked if he wants to keep playing as opposed to being ready for a break like some of the other guys:
“I’m young – I wish it was all year round. I’m living the dream and it’s something that, ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to play in the NBA. I’m just upset that my first year is over already.”

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Lakers - Kings Preview

SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN


The Los Angeles Lakers are ready to take the court again after the NBA's ruling on Metta World Peace.

The Sacramento Kings could be taking the court in California's capital city for the final time.

World Peace will begin his seven-game suspension when the Lakers visit the Kings in what could be the final NBA game at Power Balance Pavilion on Thursday night.

Banned for elbowing Oklahoma City forward James Harden in the head during the Lakers' 116-108 double-overtime win Sunday, World Peace's absence leaves Los Angeles (41-24) thin at small forward. Matt Barnes won't travel to Sacramento due to a sprained right ankle, leaving Devin Ebanks - out earlier with a stress fracture in his left leg - as coach Mike Brown's best option. "Metta has to abide by what the league says," Brown said. "Matt has to get healthy and then same with Devin. Otherwise we gotta fit guys how we can and go play the game. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us right now so we gotta figure out how to go get wins."

Los Angeles clinched the Pacific Division and No. 3 seed in the Western Conference when the Clippers lost at Atlanta on Tuesday. Thursday's other games will determine the Lakers' first-round opponent.

With no chance to affect their playoff position, the Lakers' only incentive for Thursday is whether Bryant can win the scoring title, as he's locked in a tight race with the Thunder's Kevin Durant.

"I don't care about that,'' Bryant said. "If I did, I would have went for 50 (last week) in San Antonio. They were playing me straight-up in single coverage.''

This is the second straight season the Lakers are visiting Sacramento for their regular-season finale. Once again, the Kings' future in the city is up in the air.

Near the end of last season, Anaheim's City Council issued the bonds needed to entice the franchise and new federal trademark rights were requested. The Kings' owners, the Maloof brothers, opted to give Sacramento another chance to retain the franchise.

An agreement was reached with the city on an arena deal, but that has fallen apart. The Kings (21-44) are scheduled to play at Power Balance Pavilion next season, although the situation remains in flux with Anaheim's mayor once again expressing interest in the team.

The Kings have spent 27 seasons in Sacramento, and Bryant spoiled last season's finale in the Lakers' 116-108 overtime victory. He scored 36 points and sent the game into the extra period with a tying 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds to go.

Bryant has averaged 33.5 points to help the Lakers split two meetings with the Kings in 2011-12.

Sacramento has dropped 10 of 12. Top scorer Marcus Thornton has missed three straight games with a left quad contusion.

4/22/12
W LAL 114, OKC 106
4/20/12
L SAS 121, LAL 97
4/18/12
W LAL 99, GSW 87
4/17/12
L SAS 112, LAL 91
4/15/12
W LAL 112, DAL 108
Probable Starters
Lakers
#3 Ebanks SF #25 Outlaw
#16 Gasol PF #34 Thompson
#17 Bynum C #15 Cousins
#24 Bryant SG #13 Evans
#7 Sessions PG #22 Thomas
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Lakers Matt Barnes
(sprained right ankle) is out.
Devin Ebanks
(middle & ring finger contusions, left hand) is probable.
Ramon Sessions
(sprained left shoulder - ac joint) is probable.
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Marcus Thonton
(left quad contusion) is day-to-day.
John Salmons
(sore right hip) is out.
Hassan Whiteside
(sprained right ankle) is out.
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Game 1: 12/26 - LAL @ SAC - L 91-100
Game 2: 3/02 - SAC @ LAL - W 115-107
Game 3: 4/26 - LAL @ SAC
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