for this game

Shorthanded Kings rough up Lakers as Kobe struggles

Dec 10, 2008 - 7:06 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Playing without their leading scorer and facing the prospect of a record-setting ninth straight home loss, the Sacramento Kings managed to pull off their biggest win of the season.

Francisco Garcia, starting in place of the injured Kevin Martin, led an inspired effort with 21 points as the Kings pulled away from the Los Angeles Lakers for an emotional 113-101 victory at Arco Arena on Tuesday.

John Salmons added 21 points and Bobby Jackson contributed 15 off the bench for the Kings, who ended an eight-game losing streak.

"I thought it was one of the few times all year that we played 48 minutes of solid basketball, all the way down to the wire," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "(Los Angeles) is a great basketball team, great personnel and (Phil Jackson is) a great coach.

"Anytime you can beat the Lakers, it's a huge win. It's a great way to get off a slide."

The victory stopped an eight-game home losing streak, leaving this year's version of the Kings tied with the franchise's record losing stretch set in the 1971-72 and 1993-94 campaigns.

Kobe Bryant struggled all night, finishing with 28 points on 9-of-25 shooting for the Lakers.

"I just couldn't get a rhythm," Bryant said. "I probably missed the cowbells."

The loss was the first against a Western Conference opponent for the Lakers in 12 tries and ended a three-game winning streak.

"(The Kings) had a great effort, played with a lot of energy and intensity and deserved to win the game," Bryant said. "They played with a lot of heart and a lot of toughness."

"We had situations where we just didn't finish the play offensively," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Consequently, we weren't the aggressor tonight - they were."

Sacramento closed out the third quarter with five straight points to take a seven-point lead into the final quarter, then used a 16-6 stretch early in the fourth to take control.

Garcia scored six points and reserves Bobby Brown and Jackson nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to key the run and give the Kings their biggest lead at 103-86 with 6:53 remaining.

Playing in just his fourth game since returning from a calf injury, Garcia looked like his old self with an energetic effort.

"I felt good out there," Garcia said after hitting 9-of-18 shots in 36 minutes. "(I was) a little tired at the end. In the fourth quarter, my shot was a little short. They're one of the best teams in the league, and it shows the talent we've got.

"We've got to carry this and keep getting better."

Los Angeles closed to within 12 on a three-point play by Bryant with 5:41 left. The Kings, however, were not going to let the game slip away this time.

Sacramento answered with seven of the next eight points to grab its largest lead at 110-92, and the Lakers could get no closer than 12 the rest of the way.

"(Garcia) came in early and got us going, set the tone," Salmons said. "Bobby came in off the bench for him and did the same thing. They got us going early, and we just continued it from there. Hopefully, we can grow off this. This is one of the games that can turn the season around."

The two teams meet again in Los Angeles on Friday.

After a slumbering start, the Lakers turned to their bench and got the spark they needed. With Sacramento leading by 11 points late in the first quarter, Los Angeles' reserves ignited a 16-0 run bridging the first and second quarters to forge the Lakers into the lead.

Jordan Farmar nailed consecutive 3-pointers and Andrew Bynum slammed home a dunk to finish the run and put the Lakers on top at 32-27.

But the Kings refused to wilt and rallied behind their energy source off the bench, former Sixth Man of the Year Jackson.

He scored all 10 of his first-half points in the second quarter and helped carry the Kings to a 56-51 lead at intermission.

"We did everything well tonight," said Jackson, who delivered his best performance of the season.

"When we get our mind set and come ready to play, we can challenge every team, every night. That's all coach asks for. Just coming out, being ready to play 48 minutes, and being aggressive - not backing down from anybody, taking care of the ball and making plays for each other."

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