Lakers bounce back by beating Kings in two OTs
SACRAMENTO – Devoid of any feeling in his right arm since late in the third quarter, Kobe Bryant still managed to do what he does best: make clutch shots.
Bryant ignored an arm that had no feeling and connected on two huge 3-pointers in the second overtime, finishing with 38 points as the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from a humbling Christmas Day loss to Cleveland by beating the Sacramento Kings 112-103 on Saturday night.
Lamar Odom opened the second overtime with a putback basket that gave the Lakers the lead for good. Then Bryant took control, connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Lakers in front 109-103 with 2:37 left. Los Angeles outscored the Kings 11-2 in the second OT.
Bryant wasn’t sure how the “funny bone” on his right elbow was hit, but went to the locker room briefly for some therapy, then returned for much of the fourth quarter, when he used primarily his left hand and attempted only one shot, which was blocked.
“My arm went numb and it spazzed up,” Bryant said. “My moment came for me to step up (in the second overtime). The defense relaxed, (Donte Greene) put his hands down and left me open for those shots.”
It felt like old times for Bryant, who grew accustomed to antagonistic crowds earlier in his career at Arco Arena. Only the second sellout of the season, Kings fans loudly booed the Lakers when starting lineups were announced and began chanting “Beat LA!” It was reminiscent of the crowds that cheered the Kings in the Chris Webber era, when Sacramento was typically battling the Lakers for supremacy in the Western Conference.
“To tell you the truth, it kind of (stunk) coming up here the last few years,” Bryant said. “It seems like they are getting behind this young team. It felt good to get booed like it used to be.”
Beno Udrih scored 23 points for the Kings, who held the Lakers scoreless in the final 3:35 of the fourth quarter to force overtime. Tyreke Evans had 18 points, Greene had 16 and Omri Casspi added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
It was another frustrating loss for the Kings, who went scoreless in the overtime period in a loss to Cleveland. Against the Lakers, the Kings squandered a seven-point lead in the first overtime and shot just 1-of 8 in the second OT.
The youthful Kings were stagnant on offense late in the first overtime and it carried over into the second, when their only basket was a driving layup by Evans with 3:01 remaining.
“There’s no way in the world we should have lost that game,” Evans said. “I just thought toward the end things didn’t go our way. But it was also Kobe. He just took over the game with those two 3s.”
Pau Gasol had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who avoided losing consecutive games for the second time this season. Shannon Brown scored 15 points and Odom had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
The Lakers lost 102-87 to Cleveland on Friday before a national TV audience and are in a stretch of four games in five days, concluding Tuesday at home against Golden State. They played without starting forward Ron Artest, who the team said suffered a concussion on Christmas evening, falling while carrying boxes down a flight of stairs and injuring his left elbow at his Los Angeles home.
Artest was treated at UCLA Medical Center, undergoing a CT scan and receiving stitches in the back of his head and his elbow. The team said a neurologist examined Artest on Saturday. He is day to day and didn’t travel with the team on its Saturday flight to Sacramento.
“With Ron out, it was definitely different,” Brown said. “Everyone on this team gets a chance to show their stuff at one time or another.”
After the Kings scored the first seven points in the first overtime, they went scoreless over the final 2:40 as the Lakers rallied. Gasol tipped in a missed shot by Derek Fisher from close range, tying the game at 101 with .04 seconds left.
“It feels bad, especially when you know you had them,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “When we just relaxed for that one second, Kobe got two 3s. That is what hurt us. We can’t relax. It definitely felt good to be out there, but it just hurts to lose another one.”
The victory moved the Lakers (24-5) past idle Boston for the best record in the NBA.
Bothered by his sore right arm, Bryant missed all four shots in the fourth quarter, when he began passing and shooting with his left. Yet Bryant did slap the ball away Evans in the closing seconds as the Kings never got a shot off, forcing overtime with a 94-all tie.
Arguably the top rookie thus far, Evans had just two points in the overtime periods and shot 9 of 23 and committed five turnovers.
“It was the worst game I have ever played in the NBA,” Evans said. “We had the lead and we had a couple of bad plays down the stretch.”
Overall, Bryant was his usual self offensively, but it was Brown helping the Lakers pull away in the fourth quarter. Brown scored eight points over a two-minute stretch, his three-point play putting Los Angeles ahead 92-85 with 4:23 remaining.
Despite Bryant making his first five shots and scoring 16 points in the third quarter, the Kings would not back down. It took a late 3-pointer and a breakaway dunk by Bryant in the final 1:04 to pull the Lakers even at 78 heading into the fourth.
Udrih capped off a highly productive first half by dribbling past Bryant and hitting a 3-pointer with a second left to give Sacramento a 57-55 lead. Making a rare start, Udrih scored 13 points and Greene had 11 for the Kings. Bryant had 14 points and Gasol added 12 for the Lakers, who shot 55 percent.
NOTES: Greene took an elbow from Andrew Bynum in the second quarter that opened a cut on his chin that required six stitches. Greene returned to start the second half. The teams meet again New Year’s Day in Los Angeles. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia watched the game from courtside seats.
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A grand opening will be held for Chick-fil-A Carson Valley, located at 4751 Cochise St., on Jan. 21.