SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Guard Jodie Meeks scored 19 points and made the biggest shot of the game, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:08 remaining as the Los Angeles Lakers geared up for the return of Kobe Bryant by edging the Sacramento Kings 106-100 on Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Meeks, whose playing time has increased in Bryant's absence, made a 24-footer from the top of the key to give Los Angeles a two-possession lead that the Kings could not overcome.
Forward Pau Gasol also scored 19 points for the Lakers, and his fade-away jumper from the top of the key put Los Angeles ahead to stay at 98-97 with 1:30 to go.
The Lakers overcame an 87-77 deficit in the final 14 minutes and will be above .500 (10-9) when they welcome Bryant back on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant and the Lakers announced that he will be on the floor for the first time since tearing his left Achilles tendon on April 12.
Center DeMarcus Cousins and rookie guard Ben McLemore each scored 20 points to pace the Kings (4-13), who led for much of the game before coming up short in another close one.
Seven of the Kings' past eight games have been decided by seven points or fewer and their past five home games have been determined by no more than six points. Sacramento has lost four of those five and a season-high six straight.
Guard Isaiah Thomas, the NBA's leading fourth-quarter scorer, finished with 14 points and nine assists for Sacramento but did not score in the second half.
NOTES: G Kobe Bryant and the Lakers announced that Bryant will return to the team's lineup Sunday against the Toronto Raptors. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history hasn't played since tearing his left Achilles tendon against the Golden State Warriors on April 12. ... Kings C DeMarcus Cousins returned to the starting lineup after missing Sacramento's previous game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, just the third time he has sat out with an injury in his four seasons. ... Lakers G Jordan Farmar (left hamstring tear) missed his first game of the season and rookie C Robert Sacre made his first career start for Los Angeles, replacing C-F Jordan Hill, who came off the bench. ... Kings C Hamady Ndiaye was assigned to Reno of the Developmental League.