Lakers Universe, NBA Playoffs 2002 Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings

Western Conference Finals Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal vs Vlade Divac and Chris Webber. NBA Playoffs 2002 highlights, pictures, quotes and game recaps.

Lakers Universe, NBA Playoffs 2002 Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings ****titulo1**** Playoffs 2002 Conference Semifinals - Lakers vs. Kings ****main****

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Conference Finals
Los Angeles Lakers 4 vs. Sacramento Kings 3

Game 1: L.A. Lakers 106, Sacramento 99 at Sac Game recap & pictures
Game 2: L.A. Lakers 90, Sacramento 96 at Sac Game recap & pictures
Game 3: Sacramento 103, L.A. Lakers 93 at LAL Game recap & pictures
Game 4: Sacramento 99, L.A. Lakers 100 at LAL Game recap & pictures
Game 5: L.A. Lakers 91, Sacramento 92 at Sac Game recap & pictures
Game 6: Sacramento 102, L.A. Lakers 106 at LAL Game recap & pictures
Game 7: L.A. Lakers 112, Sacramento 106 at Sac Game recap & pictures

GAME 1:  Lakers 106 - Kings 99

Kiss your home-court advantage goodbye.

Playoff picture, click to enlarge SACRAMENTO. It took the Kings 61 wins and 19,755 regular-season minutes to gain home-court advantage. It took 12 minutes to see it vanish, as the Lakers led 36-22 after one quarter. Those 12 minutes might haunt this team a long time.

The Lakers shot 67 percent, hit three 3-pointers, forced five turnovers and scored 36 points in the first 12 minutes -- their biggest quarter of the postseason. Bryant capped it with a steal and a flying dunk with 3.5 seconds left.

For the last 36 minutes the Kings were able to play with the two-time defending champions. It's those first 12 minutes that may ultimately doom a team that has now lost the only real advantage it had.

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, and Shaquille O'Neal had 26 as the Lakers extended the longest road playoff winning streak in NBA history to 12 games, beating the Sacramento Kings 106-99 Saturday in the first game of the Western Conference finals. Bryant did most of his damage in the first half with 16 points and O'Neal had a huge third quarter with 14.

Los Angeles never trailed in claiming home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. Their game plan was to attack Sacramento's best player Chris Webber at both ends of the floor.

CWebb finished with impressive numbers -- 28 points, 14 rebounds, six assists -- which is why boxscores can't be trusted. Horry's 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists were more than enough to make Webber's contribution inconsequential.

The Lakers know CWebb is a mediocre one-on-one defender, and that he creates havoc by hanging around the lane. He didn't have that luxury with Horry, who matched him point for point in the first quarter with eight, and buried a couple of 3-pointers.

They also let Horry handle CWebb alone on defense. CWebb's best attribute is his passing, but that's a little more difficult when you're not being double-teamed and thereby have a teammate open.

The Lakers won convincingly with their basic game plan, meaning they have several wrinkles to throw at the Kings should they muster a better challenge in Game 2. The defending champions didn't even attempt to go big in the backcourt, or put Kobe on Bibby, or fully utilize Shaq vs. Scot Pollard and Vlade Divac.

The Kings played without All-Star forward Peja Stojakovic, who is expected to miss Game Two with a sprained right ankle. Hedo Turkoglu got the start in Stojakovic's place, missed all eight shots and did not score

If, by the end of Monday's game, the Lakers have beaten the Kings twice, this series is over. And no one will remember those 61 wins, that Western Conference regular-season title, and those cowbells.

The Quotes

Rick Fox: "It was an interesting start, they broke a record for the loudest crowd, and five minutes later, it was the quietest crowd."

more Rick Fox: "When you can win a game without showing your full hand, you're in good shape, when Phil keeps calling for the same plays we've had in since the beginning of the year, I thought, 'Oh, I guess we don't need our new stuff.' As for them, I thought we saw everything they have."


Kobe (LAL) 30 pts 6 reb 5 assist 2 block
Shaq (LAL) 26 pts 9 reb 4 block
Horry (LAL) 18 pts 8 reb 4 steals
Chris Webber (Sac) 28 pts 14 reb 6 assist
Vlade Divac (Sac) 12 pts 11 reb

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GAME 2:  Lakers 90 - Kings 96

Kings for one day.

Playoff picture, click to enlarge SACRAMENTO. This time, Mike Bibby and the Sacramento Kings made sure there would be no fourth-quarter magic for the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the Lakers trailing by a dozen and 7:14 remaining, the world's best fourth-quarter player was in a most incredible spot. On the bench.

Kobe Bryant received three liters of intravenous fluid before Monday night's game, the last as his Laker teammates warmed up for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals at Arco Arena, because of what medical personnel suspect was food poisoning.

He scored, but he stumbled. He was terrific, then tepid, then just plain tired.

When the fourth quarter finally showed up, he didn't.

And when the Lakers had a chance to essentially finish the Western Conference finals after two games, they couldn't.

O'Neal wound up with 35, missing eight of his 12 shots in the second half. Divac wound up with 15 points and 14 rebounds and the Kings survived to fight another day.

They know that if they you can't win one home game out of two and capitalize on a sick Kobe Bryant and a derailed Shaquille O'Neal, then they really have no business being in the Western Conference finals.

The Kings did what they had to do. They beat the Lakers, 96-90, and evened the series at 1-1. They ensured themselves another home game, Game 5, but don't be convinced that they'll get back to L.A. for a Game 6. Bryant and O'Neal came up smaller than usual in the second half, no other Lakers filled the gaps and yet they still entertained thoughts of sending this game into overtime during the final seconds.

Chris Webber had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Bibby had seven of his 20 points in the final period.

Bryant started the game and was sharp early, scoring nine points in the opening quarter as the Lakers took a 26-25 advantage. But he began the second quarter on the bench, and the Kings opened the period on an 8-0 run, prompting Phil Jackson to re-insert the All-Star guard. O'Neal then took over, scoring 15 of his team's next 17 points to take a 43-42 edge.

After Bryant hit a jumper to give the Lakers a 50-47 advantage, Hedo Turkoglu, starting once again for the injured Peja Stojakovic, made a jump shot -- his first basket of the series -- and followed his own missed free throw with an off-balance jumper to give the Kings the lead for good, 51-50, with 27 seconds left in the half. Divac then sank 1-of-2 free throws to make it 52-50 entering halftime.

Neither team shot well from the line. The Lakers made 15-of-25, including just 5-of-11 from O'Neal, and the Kings converted 23-of-38. Webber had an abysmal night at the stripe, connecting on only 2-of-11 attempts.

Doug Christie made a free throw to give the Kings their largest advantage, 89-74, with 6:46 remaining to play, the Lakers chipped away, climbing within 89-82 on a pair of free throws by Rick Fox with 3:39 left.

But Bibby countered with a 3-pointer over Kobe Bryant as the shot clock was winding down with 2:51 to go to restore the Kings' double-digit edge.

Kobe hit a three-pointer to bring the Lakers to within three with 12.5 seconds remaining, but then the shot that could bring them to within one point in the final moments was taken (and missed) by Rick Fox. It was the shot Jackson wanted, they needed a quick shot and Kobe wasn't in good shape.

The Quotes

Kobe Bryant: "Next time I order a cheeseburger, I'm going to McDonald's."

Vlade Divac (Sac): "What I do? (about Shaq) Just hope he's gonna miss. I can't push him out. You see that play they run from out of bounds when he goes in the middle? When timeout is over, I'm running to get there before him because if he gets there before me, then I'm done."

Kobe Bryant: "In certain spurts I had a lot of energy, and in some I didn't, I just tried to pace myself for 3 quarters and then hopefully we'd get within striking distance, and then (with) the energy I saved up, I'd be able to put it all out when the game is one the line. But unfortunately we weren't able to get it to that point."


Shaq (LAL) 35 pts 12 reb
Kobe (LAL) 22 pts 6 reb
Horry (LAL) 8 pts 20 reb
Chris Webber (Sac) 21 pts 13 reb 5 assist
Vlade Divac (Sac) 15 pts 14 reb

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GAME 3:  Lakers 90 - Kings 103

They woke up too late.

Playoff picture, click to enlarge LOS ANGELES. Behind the daring Mike Bibby and the jump-shooting Chris Webber, who combined for 50 points, the Kings built leads of 17 points in the first quarter, 21 in the second and 24 in the third and 27 in the fourth before the Lakers found their jump shots.

Still suffering from the last drops of food poisoning, Bryant scored two points in the first half and 20 in the second. Shaquille O'Neal scored 20 points and, like everyone else, was overrun by the Kings early, and too far behind late. The home-court advantage the Lakers wrested away with a Game 1 victory was lost in an end-to-end game dictated by the Kings.

Chris Webber had 26 points and nine rebounds and Mike Bibby scored 24 points as the Kings rolled to a 103-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference finals.

Sacramento was winless in five previous postseason trips to the Staples Center but needed a win in Los Angeles to reclaim home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. The Kings played with purpose from the opening tip and withstood a remarkable run by the Lakers in the fourth quarter to take a 2-1 lead.

The Kings improved to 5-0 on the road in the postseason with the franchise's first playoff victory in Los Angeles.

Sacramento took control with a 23-6 run bridging the first two quarters. Hedo Turkoglu scored half of his 14 points during the burst, which gave the Kings a 36-15 cushion early in the second period.

Los Angeles pulled within 52-40 at halftime but managed a playoff-low 12 points in the third quarter.

The Kings led by as many as 27 early in the final period, but the Lakers employed a full-court press and rallied behind Kobe Bryant, who scored 16 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes.

After Webber buried 1-of-2 free throws with eight minutes to go (87-60), the Lakers went to the press and forced four consecutive turnovers as the Kings failed to get the ball past half-court.

Los Angeles scored 14 straight points in 52 seconds and pulled within 87-75 on Bryant's second 3-pointer of the surge with 7:08 remaining.

Webber responded with a jumper over Shaquille O'Neal and Bibby followed with a driving layup around the intimidating center to stretch the lead to 91-75.

Bryant completed a four-point play at 3:45 and Lindsey Hunter nailed a jumper 42 seconds later to get Los Angeles within 98-87, the closest margin since the game's first 10 minutes.

But Bibby answered with a driving layup and fed Webber for an alley-oop dunk with 62 seconds left to seal the victory.

The Kings shot 49 percent (38-of-77) from the floor to overcome 19 turnovers. And six players scored at least 11 points

Doug Christie added 17 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Sacramento, which again played without injured All-Star guard Peja Stojakovic.

Los Angeles, which complained about the disparity in fouls in the first two games, went to the line just 15 times on its home floor while Sacramento made 21-of-35 free throws.

The Lakers shot only 36 percent (36-of-101) from the floor and made 10-of-31 3-pointers, including eight in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers were booed at 42-23. They were booed at 63-42. Booed at 83-56. And there were desperation cheers near the end, when the Lakers scored 38 fourth-quarter points.

Phil Jackson, in a solemn gray suit, sat quietly for most of the game. In the blowout, he let Bryant, who is recovering from the bad cheeseburger, and O'Neal, who has bad feet, play 40 minutes each. He was pleased the Kings were forced to work for their victory at the end, and that they played only seven players, Scot Pollard for only seven minutes.

The Quotes

Kobe Bryant: "Well, we're not bored now."

Shaquille O'Neal: "We got into a hole and we could really not get out of it, we started late to try and pick it up"


Shaq (LAL) 20 pts 19 reb 4 assist
Kobe (LAL) 22 pts 2 block
Lindsey Hunter (LAL) 14 pts
Chris Webber (Sac) 26 pts 9 reb 6 assist
Mike Bibby (Sac) 24 pts 5 assist
Doug Christie (Sac) 17 pts 12 reb 6assist

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GAME 4:  Lakers 100 - Kings 99

Still alive after all this time.

Playoff picture, click to enlarge LOS ANGELES. With the Los Angeles Lakers down by two points with a second left, Robert Horry knew his place. What he didn't know was how he was going to get his hands on the ball.

Teammates Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal missed their shots, and Sacramento Kings center Vlade Divac tipped a rebound blindly away from the basket.

Then came something right out of the movies: The ball headed straight for Horry, who grabbed it for a 3-pointer as time expired and rallied the Lakers from a 24-point deficit to a 100-99 victory Sunday.

Horry scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers willed themselves to an amazing victory in a game they badly needed to keep their championship hopes alive. They made it as dramatic as possible, falling behind as the Kings played an outstanding first half.

Sacramento roared to its second spectacular start at Staples Center, scoring 40 points in the first quarter and taking a 14-point lead to halftime. But the Kings fumbled through the second half, and Divac missed a free throw with 11.8 seconds left.

The victory came one day after New Jersey's unprecedented fourth-quarter playoff collapse against Boston in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. After taking a 21-point lead into the final quarter, the Nets were outscored 41-16 in the fourth and lost 94-90. The Celtics lead that series 2-1.

Sacramento, still playing without injured All-Star Peja Stojakovic, had an impressive, free-flowing first half in which they led 50-26 at one point.

Bibby hit 8-of-11 shots in that half, but Samaki Walker's desperation 3-pointer -- which he released after the buzzer -- cut the lead to 65-51 at halftime.

If there was any question Jackson is loathe to answer an alarm until the last possible minute, he proved it Sunday afternoon. It wasn't until the beginning of the third quarter that he assigned Kobe Bryant to check Mike Bibby all 94 feet, thereby wresting control of the game. Kobe shut down Mike Bibby. Bibby, Pre-Kobe: 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Post-Kobe: three points, 1 of 5 shooting.

But Jackson's reluctance meant the Lakers needed every nano-second of the second half to pull this one out.

The Kings had their lead cut to 80-73 entering the final period. Horry made two free throws and a 3-pointer that made it 88-84 with 6:31 to go, and another 3-pointer answered a jumper by Turkoglu and pulled LA within 96-93 with 1:39 left.

Divac sank a long jumper with 1:17 to play, but Bryant threw in a floater in the lane. After Christie missed an open 3-pointer with 39 seconds to go, O'Neal drew a foul and made two free throws with 26 seconds left. He was 9-of-13 from the line, including 5-of-6 in the final period.

On the next possession, Vlade Divac was fouled intentionally, and he hit the front of the rim with the first one, then made the second.

After that, luck put the ball in Robert Horry's hands. Championship experience took over from there.

The Lakers had 25 offensive rebounds, three short of the franchise playoff record, seven in the fourth quarter.

It wasn't Horry's first time as a long-distance postseason hero. Horry is a member of four NBA championship teams. While with Houston, he matched the NBA Finals record with five 3-pointers in a quarter. Over the last two years with Los Angeles, he has made a game-clinching 3-pointer in four straight series.

In Game 3 of last season's NBA Finals, his 3-pointer with 47 seconds left finished off Philadelphia. Earlier this year, at Portland, he hit a decisive 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left. In the conference semifinals against San Antonio, Horry's 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining gave the Lakers a seven-point cushion as they finished off the Spurs.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal: "It was a blessed day for us. Thank God for Robert. Thank God his father met his mother, too."

Robert Horry: "You cannot think in a situation like that. A lot of guys, when the ball is coming, sit there and look at the clock, then it makes you rush your shot. I was like, `If I don't get it off in time, we lose. If I do, it's money.' I was just worried about getting my form and getting my money shot down."

Phil Jackson: "That was an incredible finish. And I didn't draw it up like that, so don't ask me."

Vlade Divac: "Just a lucky shot."

Rick Fox: "That's got to be disappointing for those people. They had to think they had a win, which would have put them in the driver's seat. But the way we won it, we kind of kicked them out of the car."


Shaq (LAL) 27 pts 18 reb 3 block
Kobe (LAL) 25 pts 3 block
Robert Horry (LAL) 18 pts 14 reb 5 assist
Vlade Divac (Sac) 23 pts 7 reb
Chris Webber (Sac) 20 pts 6 reb 5 assist
Mike Bibby (Sac) 21 pts 4 assist
Hidayet Turkoglu (Sac) 18 pts 12 reb

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GAME 5:  Lakers 91 - Kings 92

The referees swallowed the whistles.

Playoff picture, click to enlarge SACRAMENTO. Kobe Bryant missed his shot, after Mike Bibby had made his seconds earlier (after Chris Webber appeared to knock a ball out of bounds) and the Sacramento Kings had a 92-91 victory in a game that was every bit as tense and dramatic as expected.

But the NBA has a serious problem because the officiating is too unpredictable. Like it was throughout the game, like it was in that final play. Bryant had the ball on the right side, isolated against Bobby Jackson. He made his move, he and Jackson bumped and both lost their balance. Jackson grabbed Bryant's jersey as he stumbled backward, Bryant went to recover the ball and then launched a jump shot that missed. You can't pull a guy's shirt off and it not be a foul.

Some games this kind of decisions favors the Lakers, but Tuesday night it pushed them to the edge of elimination.

It's also a problem when Shaquille O'Neal is turned into a timid kitten, hesitant to move toward the basket on offense or attack the ball on defense because he doesn't know if he will be called for a foul.

He was called for six fouls on Tuesday night, sending him to the bench for good with 3:22 left in the game. O'Neal easily committed six fouls in the game, but not necessarily on all the occasions the officials thought.

There's no way to tell what they're going to call and what they aren't going to call, and never are they more inconsistent than when O'Neal is involved.

The Kings, who lead the best-of-seven Western Conference finals, three games to two, are a victory from their first NBA Finals in 51 years, when the franchise was based in Rochester.

The Lakers haven't faced a playoff elimination game since the 2000 conference finals, when they memorably rallied from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Portland in Game 7.

Bibby scored 23 points and Webber had 29. The Kings scored the final four points, from a 91-88 deficit, and Bryant missed his last four shots and seven of his final eight.

The return of All-Star Peja Stojakovic, who missed six games with a sprained ankle, didn't help the Kings much. Rick Fox, who struggled in the series' previous two games, held Stojakovic to two points while scoring 16.

The only constant in this series has been outstanding, pressure-free play by the visiting teams early in every game. Los Angeles shot 65 percent in the first quarter Tuesday night, moving the ball to create open shots with a fluidity they never showed at home over the weekend.

After rallying in the second quarter, Sacramento had a 10-point lead in the third, but O'Neal and Bryant erased it with their customary flair. The game stayed tight throughout the fourth, and O'Neal made his final eight shots before fouling out.

Bryant scored 30 points but made just 11-of-29 shots while committing five turnovers and five fouls. O'Neal scored 28 points on 14-of-18 shooting. Once again, they carried the offense for Los Angeles and got very little help.

The Quotes

Kobe Bryant : "You guys saw the replay. There's no need for me to comment on that. It's irrelevant at this point."

Jackson (Sac): "I was thinking, 'Please miss. Please, please miss.' He's a great player. He doesn't miss many shots.''


Kobe (LAL) 30 pts 5 reb
Shaq (LAL) 28 pts 7reb 2 block
Rick Fox (LAL) 16 pts 6 reb
Vlade Divac (Sac) 13 pts 7 reb
Chris Webber (Sac) 29 pts 13 reb
Mike Bibby (Sac) 23 pts 4 reb

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GAME 6:  Lakers 106 - Kings 102

Game 7 is necessary

LOS ANGELES. The Lakers, down a game and facing elimination along with the end of their three-peat desires, defeated the Sacramento Kings, 106-102, Friday night at Staples Center, forcing one last game in the Western Conference finals. It will be played at Arco Arena on Sunday afternoon.

O'Neal scored 41 points and took 17 rebounds. Bryant scored 31 points. He shot 11 free throws, seven of them in the fourth quarter, and made them all. The Lakers scored 16 of their final 18 points from the free-throw line, all in the final quarter.

Shaq and Kobe combined for 72 points and 45 shots, and scored 23 of the Lakers' 31 fourth-quarter points, when the Kings scored 27. As usual, the Kings were more balanced, with six players in double figures. Chris Webber scored 26 points and Bibby scored 23, but Bibby was seven for 20 from the floor.

With everything from savage dunks and delicate hook shots to a string of 10 straight free throws, O'Neal wouldn't allow this epic playoff series to end early. He went 13-for-17 from the line, not a remarkable feat for most players, but an indication of just how seriously O'Neal took this game.

Now, this series will end appropriately: With the champs matched against the NBA's best regular-season team in a winner-take-all game on Sunday.

The winner of Game 7 at Arco Arena will play host to the New Jersey Nets, winners of the Eastern Conference, in Game 1 of the Finals on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles went nearly six minutes without a field goal down the stretch in the fourth quarter, but made 18 free throws over the final 6:21 to hold off the Kings. Bryant made four free throws in the final 19.8 seconds.

Without O'Neal's dominance, Los Angeles' hope of a third straight title probably would have died against another aggressive, uptempo effort by the Kings. Chris Webber had an outstanding game, finishing with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

But O'Neal was relentless in a performance fitting for the dominant big man of his era. He scored 21 points in the first half, then didn't come out of the game in the second half despite his assortment of injuries.

The Kings, knew all along they didn't have an answer for O'Neal. Kings big men Scot Pollard and Vlade Divac both fouled out, and Sacramento was forced to use Lawrence Funderburke in the fourth quarter.

While winning three of the previous four games in the series, Sacramento used foul trouble and big early leads to wear down O'Neal and his arthritic toe before crunch time; in Game 6, O'Neal didn't appear the least bit tired or injured. Shaq also got nearly every call that didn't go his way in Sacramento.

Sacramento led at halftime for the third straight time at Staples Center, where the Kings won just once in 11 games until this series. Shaquille scored his 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting to keep the Lakers ahead, but Sacramento closed the half with 10 straight points. Divac's buzzer-beating 3-pointer - from the exact spot where Horry won Game 4 for the Lakers - gave the Kings a 56-51 halftime lead, but they never got into a flow in a choppy second half, and the Lakers held them off.

Los Angeles nursed a narrow lead for most of the fourth quarter, with O'Neal and Bryant taking nearly every shot.

The Quotes

O'Neal said Bryant had called him 2:30am Friday morning: "Big fella," Bryant told him, "need you tomorrow. We'll make history."

O'Neal (LAL): "You have to foul me to stop me. Period." (about the 40 free throws the Lakers shot)


Shaq (LAL) 41 pts 17 reb
Kobe (LAL) 31 pts 11 reb
Chris Webber (Sac) 26 pts
Mike Bibby (Sac) 23 pts

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GAME 7:  Lakers 112 - Kings 106

Lakers arrived to the finals just five minutes late.

Playoff picture, click to enlarge SACRAMENTO .The Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings, 112-106, in overtime Sunday night at Arco Arena, won the Western Conference finals in seven games and will play the New Jersey Nets in a best-of-seven series beginning Wednesday night at Staples Center.

O'Neal and Bryant showed that they have the determination to match their talent. Both played to the point of exhaustion, with O'Neal collecting 35 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in 50 minutes and Bryant added 30, 10 and seven assists while sitting just scant seconds in the second quarter.

The superstars got some help, too. Starters Fox, Robert Horry and Derek Fisher -- all part of the Lakers' last two title teams -- each scored in double figures.

When it appeared these Lakers would not leave the wake they did in their previous two championship seasons, they became the first Laker team to win a Game 7 on the road, in the first overtime Game 7 ever played in the conference finals.

They'll play the Nets to become the fifth team to win at least three consecutive championships.

It was, as it turned out, still about the Lakers, still about what they do to the NBA, not what it does to them. Down, three games to two, in the series, the Lakers won the next two games, both behind a resurgent O'Neal. The Kings were, perhaps, the best team they'd seen in their 11 consecutive postseason series.

The Lakers scored the final eight points of overtime, on a short turn-around jumper by O'Neal and then two free throws each by O'Neal, Derek Fisher and Bryant.

From a 106-104 lead, the Kings missed five shots and committed two turnovers, the first when Hedo Turkoglu forced a pass that Bryant poked away from Chris Webber, the second when Robert Horry deflected another pass. Already the Kings had missed 14 of 30 free-throw attempts, could not hold a one-point lead with 38 seconds left in regulation or a two-point lead with two minutes left in the overtime.

And then one of the great—and longest—series in NBA history was done, and Bryant fell into O'Neal's arms. He had played 52 minutes, equaling his career high. O'Neal played 51.

Bryant found Mike Bibby, who all but wrecked them all for 16 days, and held him too, and whispered what a wonderful player he was, and told Bibby that he knew what made him take big shots, and make big shots, in the biggest moments.

Bibby scored 29 points, four in the overtime, 12 in the fourth quarter. With 2:58 left, Bibby made an open jumper from about 19 feet. He brought the Kings to within 91-90. Coach Phil Jackson stormed from the Laker bench and shouted for a timeout and then screamed at his players twice.

Bryant threw a towel at the bench, and Horry and Jackson stood tensely for a moment on the floor, Jackson punctuating his words by pointing to the spot where Bibby made his shot, Horry doing the same. He had that effect on them, until he was gone.

Horry, who had made the game-winning three-pointer in Game 4 and had 16 points and 12 rebounds here, stood at mid-court and fired a salute into the crowd, his smile as crooked as his gait.

Fox, who had called out the Kings in the days before the series, pulled his jersey over his head and whipped it in the air. He had a playoff career-high 14 rebounds, and was aggressive to the basket on a few late possessions when the Lakers leaned toward timid.

Fisher, who had a difficult series defending Bibby and shooting, made all four of his free throws in overtime.

If the Kings gave an early clue that the pressure was getting to them, it came midway through the first quarter after Bryant drove past everybody for a dunk.

Bibby missed a reverse layup, Divac clanged a jumper, Turkoglu and Divac each missed a pair from the line and Bibby missed another jump shot. The Lakers capitalized on the cold spell to take a 20-13 lead on a 3-pointer by Fox -- his only basket of the first half.

Bryant had a dozen points in the second quarter and O'Neal had 11, keeping the Lakers within range as the Kings played from ahead for most of the quarter. The game stayed tight though the third quarter, with Bibby drawing O'Neal's third foul on a reach-in with 2.4 seconds left. He made one of two from the line to give the Kings a 74-73 edge heading into the fourth.

Webber drew a technical foul less than two minutes into the fourth for complaining about a non-call, then missed his next two shots before making a dunk to cut the Kings deficit to 87-86 with 5:13 left.

In the final two minutes of regulation, the lead changed hands four times. Bibby made a jumper for a 94-93 lead, and then Horry made a three-pointer from the top for a 96-94 lead.

Vlade Divac made a put-back of a Turkoglu miss for a 96-96 tie, and then Bryant made one of two free-throw attempts with 46.3 seconds left, for a 97-96 lead. Divac fouled out on a loose-ball scramble, sending Bryant to the line, forcing the Kings to defend O'Neal with Webber for however long it would take to determine a winner.

Bibby then made a 20-footer, even as O'Neal and Bryant charged at him, for a one-point King lead, and Bryant made two free throws for a Laker lead. O'Neal made one free throw and Bibby made two, tying the score at 100, giving the ball to the Lakers with 8.2 seconds left.

O'Neal missed a 14-footer and Bryant and Horry both missed taps around the rim before the buzzer sounded.

Jackson hasn't lost a playoff series since the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1995 against O'Neal and the Orlando Magic.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal: "They felt it was their time, it was not their time."

Rick Fox: "Is he a free agent?" he asked, laughing. "Can we get him? Dr. Buss, can we spend the money? That cat is good." (about Mike Bibby)

One of the best quotes of the series came from Kobe Bryant, who said he would not be eating in Sacramento prior to Game 7. "All those cows up there and I couldn't get a decent burger?'' asked Bryant, who came down with food poisoning after eating a bad burger prior to Game 2


Shaq 35 pts 13 reb 4 blocks
Kobe 30 pts 10 reb 7 assist 2 steals
Rick Fox 13 pts 14 reb 7 assist
Robert Horry 16 pts 12 reb 5 assist
Fisher 13 pts
Webber (Sac) 20 pts 8 reb 11 assist
Bibby (Sac) 29 pts 5 reb 4 assist
Divac (Sac) 15 pts 10 reb

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