for this game

Bryant, Gasol power Lakers past Kings

Mar 5, 2008 - 7:36 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) - The Los Angeles Lakers were waiting for someone to step up and superstar Kobe Bryant delivered.

Bryant poured in 17 of his 34 points over the final six minutes as the surging Lakers rallied to post a 117-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Pau Gasol collected 31 points and 10 rebounds and Lamar Odom chipped in 19 and 12 as the Lakers captured their 15th win in 17 outings.

"It started clicking for me," Bryant said. "Just being aggressive, reading the defense. We were able to make our adjustments in the fourth quarter, and I was able to take advantage of it.

"It's my responsibility to kind of kick it into gear. Pau kept us in the game for three quarters. That was my time to kind of jump up there and take us home."

After Ron Artest's dunk put the Kings up 100-93 midway through the fourth quarter, Los Angeles tightened up defensively while Bryant carried the offensive load during a game-changing 14-0 run which was capped by Bryant's flashy 360-degree dunk to forge a 107-100 edge.

The Kings would get no closer than four the rest of the way as they were outscored, 36-18, in the final period.

"They're a great basketball team," Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said. "When all is said and done, they made the plays down the stretch to win the basketball game. I thought we outplayed them for 40, probably 42 minutes."

The Kings never trailed until Bryant hit a pair of free throws with 4:06 left to put Los Angeles ahead 101-100. From there, the Kings had no answers for Bryant or the Lakers' swarming defense to close out the contest.

"Very, very strong finish," Gasol said. "That's the way we should have played all game long. But I'm proud of the way we came back and the way we executed and played defense the last nine minutes of the game. Hopefully, (we) can play longer stretches of that kind of basketball."

"We are just disappointed how we lost," Kings guard Kevin Martin said. "They definitely made plays down the stretch. They were being aggressive and we missed some shots."

Los Angeles converted 17-of-19 free throws and held the Kings to 6-of-23 from the floor in the decisive quarter.

"Defensively, we stepped it up," Odom said. "If you want to win consistently in this league, you have to be a good defensive team, especially on the road. Playing hard is half the battle."

The two Pacific Division rivals, who had not played each other this season before Tuesday's matchup, meet three more times over the final six weeks.

"It took us a while to get used to (Sacramento's) style of play," Bryant said. "It's kind of weird. We normally have played them four times by now. So, for the first three quarters, it was an adjustment period."

Artest and Martin both had 23 points for Sacramento, which took its biggest lead of the first half at 48-35 following a steal and dunk from Artest with 5:16 left in the second.

But veteran guard Derek Fisher buried back-to-back 3-pointers to close out the half and help Los Angeles close within 58-53 at the break.

"We were not playing that great during the game, but we won this game because of effort," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "We played defense in the last five minutes."

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