Bryant, Lakers hold off shorthanded KingsNov 24, 2008 - 6:55 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers have raised expectations so high, that just winning isn't good enough anymore.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points to lead eight players in double figures as the Lakers posted a 118-108 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
The Lakers withstood a late rally to improve to 11-1 - their best start since the 2001-02 campaign when they began 16-1 and won their last NBA title. But Bryant wasn't happy, especially since the Lakers allowed Sacramento to shoot 53 percent from floor (47-of-88).
"I'm not happy with this win," the reigning league MVP said. "I felt like we particularly didn't get better. We could have played much more solid defensively."
According to Pau Gasol, avoiding late letdowns is still a major concern.
"Maintaining the focus for 48 minutes, that's the biggest challenge we are going to face most of the games," Gasol said.
"We're letting teams back in the game and we're letting teams just play their style and not trying to get them out of their system. We still win, but we should leave (the arena) with a better feeling about ourselves."
In this one, the Lakers indeed let the Kings back in.
Bobby Jackson scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Kings to help cut a 16-point deficit down to four points with just over six minutes remaining.
Order was restored as the Lakers went on a 9-0 run over the next four minutes and took a 114-101 lead on Trevor Ariza's free-throw with 2:39 left.
"It was one of those nights that you just don't want to play a sub-par game, end up losing and regret it because you didn't give the best effort," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Gasol had 16 points and Andruw Bynum finished with 15 and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles. Lamar Odom added 14 points off the bench and Vladamir Radmanovic had 12 on four 3-pointers.
John Salmons paced Sacramento with 24 points, while rookie Bobby Brown scored a career-high 21 for Sacramento. The Kings played an eighth straight game without leading-scorer Kevin Martin, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.
"The effort tonight, playing against a great basketball team, may not have been enough to win this game, but if we can keep playing that hard and that focused then we can win some games," Kings coach Reggie Theus said.
The Lakers used a 12-0 run to break open a five-point game and take an 88-71 lead with 2:41 left in the third. Gasol started the spurt with a three-point conversion, followed soon after by 3-pointers from Sasha Vujacic and Derek Fisher for the large cushion.
Los Angeles carried a 16-point lead into the fourth, only to see the Kings quickly cut into it with eight unanswered points to make it 99-88 with 10:04 to play. Minutes later, Jackson got his team to within 105-101 on a three-point conversion with 6:17 left.
"Bobby always hits big buckets," Salmons said. "That's what he's always done his whole career."
That was as close as Sacramento would get, though.
"The game was moving up and down a little faster than we wanted to play," Odom said. "But we were able to sustain runs both on the offensive and defensive ends."
LA LAKERS 118 FINAL
Nov 23 11:52 PM
LA LAKERS 96 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 23 11:18 PM
LA LAKERS 61 HALFTIME
Nov 23 10:37 PM
NBA SACRAMENTO 27
LA LAKERS 32 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 23 10:13 PM
LA LAKERS 32 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 23 10:08 PM
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