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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 25 28 29 21 103
Play by Play Sacramento Kings 37 20 18 23 98
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Kobe Bryant leads Lakers past Kings, 103-98

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ


Posted Mar 31 2013 12:54AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 19 points and tied a season high with 14 assists despite a nagging left foot injury, and the Los Angeles Lakers kept pace for the Western Conference's final playoff spot by outlasting the Sacramento Kings 103-98 on Saturday night.

Bryant added nine rebounds and facilitated the Lakers' offense for 47 minutes, 37 seconds after Steve Nash exited early in the first quarter with a recurring right hamstring injury. Bryant also passed Lakers great Wilt Chamberlain (31,419 points) for fourth on the NBA's career scoring list, after starting four points shy of the mark.

Dwight Howard added 24 points and 15 rebounds, and Steve Blake scored 15 points for the Lakers (38-36), who stayed even with Utah (38-36) for the eighth and final playoff spot. Los Angeles hosts 10th-place Dallas (36-37) in a critical tilt Tuesday night.

Tyreke Evans had 21 points and nine rebounds, and DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points and 11 rebounds in Sacramento's latest loss. The Lakers won the season series 3-1.

With Bryant engineering the offense, Los Angeles showed some of its best ball movement of the season.

Bryant slipped a pass to Pau Gasol for a fast-break dunk - and his 13th assist - to put Los Angeles ahead 98-93 with 4:52 remaining. Gasol also tossed an alley-oop to Howard just before.

Sacramento refused to go away quietly at home. Cousins followed with a free throw and a long jumper, and Evans added a layup to slice the Lakers' lead to two.

After Bryant missed a jumper, Jodie Meeks stripped Evans on a layup attempt at the other end. Bryant hit 1 of 2 free throws to put the Lakers ahead 101-98 with 24 seconds remaining, giving Sacramento one last chance.

Howard blocked Cousins' 3-point attempt. After pleading with the official for a foul, Cousins got the ball back and he forced a 3-point miss. Bryant made two free throws to end a topsy-turvy night for the Lakers on a positive note.

Los Angeles lost Nash with a strained right hamstring just 1:48 into the game. Coach Mike D'Antoni patted Nash on the back before the point guard walked gingerly to the locker room and never returned.

Sacramento surged ahead 37-25 after the first quarter with a frenetic pace that often left the Lakers' frontline in the backcourt. The Kings, who entered the game averaging an NBA-best 108.9 points since the All-Star break, made 15 of their first 21 from the floor.

Sacramento held Bryant scoreless until he hit a pair of free throws with 8:50 remaining in the second quarter. The shots sparked Bryant and the Lakers late in the half, along with a larger-than-normal sprinkling of Los Angeles fans sporting purple and gold throughout the announced sellout crowd of 17,317.

Bryant made a pull-up jumper from the free throw line with 7:54 remaining in the second quarter to eclipse Chamberlain.

Still, Bryant's seventh assist of the half might have been his most important play. He found Blake for a 3-pointer to give the Lakers their first lead of the game, 51-50, before Sacramento went back ahead 57-53 at the break on Isaiah Thomas' 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left.

Bryant had a bone spur in his left foot that has bothered him for several games. The injury apparently is unrelated to his sprained left ankle, which occurred earlier in Atlanta.

With his foot stiffening up when he sits, Bryant came out for just 23 seconds.

Bryant finished a thunderous dunk down the lane and added two free throws and a pair of assists, rallying the Lakers back with a 14-1 run to close the third quarter. Los Angeles led 82-75 entering the fourth.

The Kings had scored at least 100 points in 20 of the previous 23 games, including 11 straight at home.

NOTES: Bryant has tossed 14 assists two other times this season. His career high is 15 assists against Washington on Feb. 12, 2002. ... Cousins was called for a technical foul in the second quarter for slamming his hand on the scorer's table after officials whistled Thompson for a foul. ... Kings F James Johnson rejoined the team and was shooting around before the game. He sat out his eighth straight game because of personal reasons.


Copyright 2013 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

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Points Howard, 24
Rebounds Howard, 15
Assists Bryant, 14
Blocks Howard, 5
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On tonight's win:
“I thought the first quarter you have to give them a lot of credit. They were shooting and playing. I thought our defense was still pretty good but we couldn’t stop them. After that we just upped it even more and did an unbelievable job for three quarters defensively.”

On defense in the last four minutes of the game:
“I think the intensity and just sticking to what we want to do and understanding what we wanted to do. Even in the fourth quarter, they got 10 points on put-backs right at the end so I thought our defense in the fourth quarter was even better. We just didn’t finish it up a couple of times.”

On concern about Steve Nash:
“Concerned but he’ll do everything he can in his power to get well. He’s got a couple of days off and we’ll see. He said he just strained it. He understands his body and knows not to push too much.”




Kobe Bryant:

On passing Wilt Chamberlain as 4th NBA All-Time Scorer:
“What a journey, a very, very long journey. Extremely appreciative of the all the support for the Laker Faithful and the Laker Nation from being a17-year old kid to a 34-year old man and all of the support they’ve given me throughout my career.”

On playing 48 minutes:
“Sometime you have just got to wheel your way through it. Now is not the time to sit back.”

On key to defense switching:
We did a much better job defensively. Even in the start of the game we did a good job. They were making like fade-away three’s and contested three’s and tough contested two’s. Our defense was very solid; we just had to stay with them.”




Jodie Meeks:

On Kobe Bryant becoming 4th All-Time Scorer in the NBA:
“It’s amazing. When you play with a guy like that you try to learn what you can.”




Keith Smart:

“I guess you can’t really talk bad about the way these guys competed tonight. I thought that our guys did everything they could from a statistical standpoint, outside of winning the basketball game. They put themselves in a great position to win the game with some plays that they made. The Lakers are a team that can take advantage of whatever situation you have on the floor but our guys did a lot of great things out there. They had good lineups and made some plays to get back into the game. John Salmons did a great job of defending one of the top guys in the league, Kobe Bryant. He really had to work on Bryant tonight. Some things just didn’t fall in our favor. In the third quarter we gave up seven turnovers and that kind of changed the complexion of the game a little bit. Our guys still managed to get themselves into position to win that game, though. We could’ve had a big three that went down and put us up in the game. What we needed was to be up in the fourth quarter against this team. We just weren’t able to get there.”

On the last play in the fourth quarter where DeMarcus Cousins had the ball:
“I didn’t design for that. Sometimes the defense does a better job than you think they will. There was one play where we had Marcus Thornton taking the ball out and it was going to be a hand-back. They jumped in his path and denied the swing of the basketball. We got the catch that we wanted because we knew that Pau Gasol would not pressure him to get the catch, but then Jodie Meeks did a great job of not allowing Thornton to get the ball back. Then you’re stuck with a play. Some calls looked different to me. I’ll have to look at the film to see where the truth really was.”

On sticking with Patrick Patterson in the lineup over Jason Thompson:
“I thought that Patterson was doing a good job at getting the defense where it needed to be. What he was doing out there on the floor was good. He missed some shots offensively but his defense is what helped us to get back into a position where we could win. He was able to handle the pick-and-rolls and get back to certain coverage areas so I took a chance with that. We came a few possessions away from possibly winning the basketball game. Some nights, the coach will make a decision that works and some nights, they make one that doesn’t.”




DeMarcus Cousins:

On how detrimental the Lakers’ third-quarter run was to overcome:
“It was tough, but even with their run I believe we still were able to keep the game close. We had lot of opportunities down the stretch and we did make some mistakes but I’m proud of my team – our effort was incredible tonight and we competed our asses off.”

On the shot he took out of the timeout where he got Dwight Howard in the air:
“Well actually the play wasn’t for me, I was supposed to hand it off but I got hit in my lower groin and kind of screwed up the play. I knew that he would jump so I tried to get him in the air, get him on my back – it’s unfortunate.”

On the second three-point attempt:
“I kind of rushed it and I mean, I just ended up taking it…it was a bad choice but I was still confident in the shot.”




John Salmons:

On the game:
“It was a tough game. We put ourselves in a position to win the game, it just didn’t go that way at the end.”




Jason Thompson:

On the game:
“We came out with a good start…for the most part it was just going back and forth. We had a comfortable lead but with a veteran team like the Lakers it’s always good games here.”

When asked if he was surprised he didn’t get put back in the game:
“I don’t know why I didn’t but sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow. Especially those games, when you’re in good rhythm and it’s positive, it’s not like you were down or anything like that, you were definitely up at times and energy was there, making shots, feeling good – the last place I want to be is watching it from the bench. For me being a veteran kind of, slightly, being my fifth year, you try not to get too frustrated; you try and learn from it.”

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LAKERS-KINGS PREVIEW

By TAYLOR BECHTOLD

Posted Mar 29 2013 9:51PM

It wasn't long ago when the Los Angeles Lakers had finally found their groove and appeared to be coasting into the playoffs.

Their latest rash of injuries may have put those postseason hopes in jeopardy.

The Lakers know they won't have Metta World Peace available following regular season-ending knee surgery, but having Kobe Bryant on Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings will surely cushion the blow.

Following a 113-103 loss at Milwaukee on Thursday, the Lakers revealed Bryant has been dealing with a bone spur in his left foot. Bryant, third in the NBA in scoring at 27.2 per game, finished with 30 points despite 6-of-17 shooting against the Bucks, but he left the arena using one crutch.

"Inflamed on me. I'll be all right," Bryant told Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers (37-36) listed Bryant as probable despite the injury. He's been bothered by the bone spur for several games, and he got treatment on the injury Friday.

Los Angeles went 2-1 with Bryant sidelined almost three full games because of a sprained ankle earlier this month.

Bryant's latest injury came a day after the team announced World Peace would miss at least six weeks due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. Jodie Meeks has started the last two games in his place, shooting 6 of 19 from the field.

Steve Nash is listed as questionable with discomfort in his right hip and hamstrings after he sat out the fourth quarter Thursday. Pau Gasol has played four games after missing 20 with a foot injury but is averaging just 10.0 points since returning.

The Lakers have lost four of five overall - following an 11-3 stretch - and can't afford to continue their slide with Dallas and Utah fighting them for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"We need to win every single game that we have left," Dwight Howard said. "... If we want to do anything in the playoffs, we will need to come together as a team and win some games."

Howard enters this contest having recorded 12 straight double-doubles, averaging 19.0 points and 15.2 rebounds. However, he's totaled 12 points and 13 boards in his last two visits to Sacramento.

Los Angeles has lost three straight there, including a 113-97 defeat Nov. 21 despite Bryant's 38 points. He's averaged 33.2 in his past six matchups with the Kings.

His absence didn't hurt the Lakers in the last meeting, winning 113-102 on March 17 as Antawn Jamison made five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 27.

DeMarcus Cousins sat out that night with a quad injury - he missed Sacramento's other loss in the season series due to a suspension - but enters this matchup coming off possibly his best performance of the season.

Cousins scored 17 in a row in the first half and finished with a season-high 34 on 12-of-16 shooting Thursday in a 117-103 victory at Phoenix. He also grabbed 14 rebounds to help Sacramento win for the sixth time in 10 games.

"He has the whole package," coach Keith Smart said. "When everything comes along in his life, when he grows up and sells into how he plays every night in the NBA, he'll be a special talent."

Cousins battled foul trouble and finished with seven points in the November victory over the Lakers.

Isaiah Thomas led the way with 26 points against Los Angeles earlier this month. He's averaged 26.3 on 60.5 percent shooting - including 14 for 23 from 3-point range - in his last three games overall.

The Kings have scored 110.3 per game - 10.3 above their season average - over their last 16. They could maintain that pace against a Los Angeles defense allowing an average of 113.0 points on a four-game road trip which ends Saturday.


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.
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #24 Bryant SF #5 Salmons  
  #16 GasolPF #34 Thompson  
  #12 Howard C #15 Cousins  
  #20 Meeks SG #13 Evans  
  #10 Nash PG #22 Thomas  


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Lakers Kobe Bryant
(bone spur, left foot) is questionable.
Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
Antawn Jamison
(sprained right wrist) is probable.
Steve Nash
(right hip stiffness) is probable.
Metta World Peace
(lateral meniscus tear, left knee) is out.
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Jazz James Johnson
(personal reasons) is not with team.
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11/11 - SAC 90 @ LAL 103
11/21 - LAL 97 @ SAC 113
03/17 - SAC 102 @ LAL 113
03/30 - LAL @ SAC
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