Kings 103, Lakers 83
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Though their opponents wore those familiar purple jerseys and had the same goateed coach, it just wasn’t the same for the Sacramento Kings.
Peja Stojakovic scored 23 points and the Kings routed the injury-depleted Lakers 103-83 Friday night in an anticlimactic meeting of archrivals.
Mike Bibby had 21 points for the Kings, who won their fourth straight and improved the NBA’s best record to 28-9. Still, the Kings attached almost no significance to their first game of the season against Los Angeles.
“They didn’t have their big guns, so we just did what we had to do: jump on them,” said Brad Miller, who had nine points, 14 rebounds and five assists in his introduction to the heated rivalry.
Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Horace Grant and Rick Fox all missed the game, leaving coach Phil Jackson, Gary Payton and the Lakers’ supporting cast to endure the taunts and cowbells of Sacramento. The Lakers had won three straight with their diminished roster, but they were no match for the Kings.
“It doesn’t matter to me who they’ve got out there,” said Bobby Jackson, who scored 15 points. “This is still the game we get up for more than any other one. They’ll be healthy by the time the playoffs come around.”
Sacramento never trailed and scored 17 consecutive points early in the third quarter, punctuated when Stojakovic accidentally banked in a 3-pointer. The Kings took a 29-point lead early in the fourth and coasted to the win despite regularly losing focus in yet another home victory.
“That’s a good team, (but) when we get all our guys back, we’ll be a good team, too,” Payton said. “We have young guys in here that are trying to learn how to play. They don’t know this offense really well, so this is a learning experience for them.”
Payton scored 16 points but was thoroughly outplayed by Bibby, who hit several tough jumpers and ran the Kings’ up-tempo offense to perfection before sitting out the fourth quarter. Sacramento is a league-best 21-2 at home.
Kareem Rush scored a career-high 30 points for the Lakers in Bryant’s starting spot.
There was only a bit of the usual antagonistic flavor to this matchup: Before the game, Phil Jackson pointed out the Kings’ tendency to allow opponents to recover from large deficits against them. But the Lakers’ JV squad couldn’t mount a significant rally against the Kings.
“We put some pressure on them so it would be a competitive game, but we got blown out of the water in the third quarter,” Phil Jackson said. “You have to hand it to the Kings. They have the experience, and they created turnovers in the third quarter that caused the momentum.”
Chris Webber hasn’t played all season for the Kings while recovering from knee surgery, but he was behind the bench cheering on his teammates. The Lakers’ injured contingent stayed home, and it didn’t miss much.
Sacramento led 47-38 at halftime despite getting no points from Miller and just one offensive rebound from the entire team. But Bibby sparked the Kings’ 17-0 run after Los Angeles got the opening basket of the second half, and the rest of the game was uglier than any Lakers-Kings matchup in recent memory.
Malone missed his 11th straight game with a knee injury, and Bryant spent his second game on the injured list with a sprained shoulder. O’Neal is nearly ready to return from a calf injury, but he didn’t make the trip to Sacramento.
What’s more, Fox hasn’t played all season for the Lakers, and Grant has left the team to be with his ailing father in Georgia.
Seldom-used second-year pro Sampson got his first NBA start in Sacramento, and Vlade Divac abused him with clever layups and passing. Los Angeles’ starting frontcourt—Sampson, Slava Medvedenko and Devean George—combined toshoot 6-for-22.
Earlier in the week, Payton and Bobby Jackson joined a business venture with former Kings player LaSalle Thompson to produce high-class wheels for luxury cars. … The Lakers fell to 2-3 in games without Bryant and O’Neal since the 1996-97 season. … Motley Crue singer Vince Neil got two words wrong in the national anthem. … O’Neal practiced with the Lakers on Thursday, and he could return by Monday for a home game against Phoenix. … Webber has participated in light workouts with the Kings, but no return date has beenset.