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Old 04-07-2008, 10:44 PM   #1
kobedaman24
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Default LA TIMES: Lakers can see the pacific from here

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SACRAMENTO -- It looked as if the Lakers and Sacramento Kings were on their way to another shootout, but a few things got in their way.

Namely, the second, third and fourth quarters.

Lakers 114, Kings 92
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Lakers 114, Kings 92

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The Lakers gave the Kings a little slack in the first quarter but reeled it back quickly in a convincing 114-92 victory Sunday at Arco Arena that allowed them to keep pace with San Antonio and take a decisive step toward winning the Pacific Division.

The Lakers won the last three quarters after losing the first, 27-23, handcuffing the Kings the rest of the way and ringing up their most lopsided victory in Sacramento since a 115-92 blowout in March 1989.

Kobe Bryant scored 29 points on efficient nine-for-15 shooting, and Vladimir Radmanovic was a difference-maker, tying a season high with 21 points and tying a career high with 14 rebounds.

Along the way, the Lakers (53-24) stayed even with San Antonio for second place in the Western Conference and moved two games ahead of Phoenix in the Pacific Division.

The Lakers own the tiebreaker with the Suns, putting them in prime position to win the division and guaranteed home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Granted, they have other things on their minds besides a division title.

"We'd like to win the West," Lamar Odom said.

The Lakers have five regular-season games left, including Tuesday at Portland. They play host to front-running New Orleans (54-22) on Friday and San Antonio (53-24) on Sunday.

Until then, they can reflect on a defensive effort in the final three quarters that pushed their winning streak to four games.

They held the Kings to 18 points in the second quarter and outscored them in the third, 36-24.

The fourth quarter was a little less dominant -- the Lakers' starters checked back into the game in a hurry after a 23-point lead was sliced to 12 -- but it also ended with the Lakers on top.

Efficiency seemed to be the watchword of the evening.

Every Lakers starter made at least half his shots. Odom made seven of eight and scored 16 points. Radmanovic was a commendable five for eight from three-point range.

Perhaps the prime example was the third quarter. The Lakers had assists on all 15 of their baskets.

"Great execution in that third quarter," Odom said. "We moved the ball, got easy buckets, got everybody involved."

Radmanovic was notably engaged, taking rebound after rebound and scoring twice on buzzer-beaters -- a fadeaway three-pointer at the end of the first quarter and an 18-footer with 0.7 of a second left in the third quarter.

"Tonight, I just kind of went over to him before the game and said, 'We'd like you to be a little more consistent,' " Coach Phil Jackson said. "I didn't say it quite like that. It was a little more pungent."

Radmanovic laughed when he saw a pack of reporters move in on him in the locker room.

"What, did we win the championship?" he said.

Then he joked about Jackson's pregame discussion with him.

"We're working on our 'Anger Management,' " he said. "Phil is Jack [Nicholson] and I'm the other guy, Ben Stiller. We worked on it today for, like, five minutes."

The other guy in the movie was Adam Sandler, but the attempt was close enough.

Meanwhile, the Lakers finally admitted to doing some scoreboard-watching.

"Most everybody was talking about the Phoenix-Dallas finish on the bus coming into the game," Jackson said, referring to the Mavericks' come-from-behind victory.

It will be that way for the rest of the regular season.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/basket...,6863245.story
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