Powered by... Shaq.

Sacramento is an athletic team with a good ball game, but it is two games from summer. The main reason is that they don't know what to do with that big guy named Shaquille O'Neal.

But this problem is not exclusive of the Kings, nobody can handle Shaq. You can go to Portland, the city with the "best team money can buy" and ask anybody. They couldn't even steal one game from the Lakers and were miserably sweeped.

For the first time in the league history one player gets in the same playoff series at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in consecutive games. In this game Shaq scored 43 points (18/26 attempts, 7/13 ft) and took 20 rebounds.

As always, the Lakers had two weapons in attack, with Kobe Bryant getting 27 points (9/19), 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

The other 3 starters scored 25 points and the bench was outscored 31-1 by the Kings bench, and still the Kings needed a desperate, 34-point fourth-quarter to come close.

Based in the game 1 experience, Sacramento sent double-teams to Shaq, but it wasn't enought, and O'Neal finished the first quarter with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Divac and Pollard, the responsibles of stopping Shaq, ended the game with 6 points and 6 rebounds... together..

The first half ended 43-43. But the Lakers came back to the third quarter ready to show they are the defending champions.

Fox hounded Stojakovic, Bryant hounded Christie, and O'Neal was too much in the middle, that limited Sacramento to only 13 points and 5 rebounds in a key third quarter. Kobe and Shaq scored 22 points to give the Lakers a 31-13 partial.


Scot Pollard(Sac): "I would say our confidence is shaken a little bit."

Shaquille O'Neal (LAL): "I'm trying to get my jersey up there with Mr. West's and Mr. Chamberlain's."


Shaquille O'Neal (LAL) 43 pts. 22 reb.
Kobe Bryant (LAL) 27 pts. 9 reb. 5 assist.
Chris Webber (Sac) 22 pts.


GAME 1:  LAKERS 108 - KINGS 105

Shaq-Kobe, too much for Sacramento.

The Sacramento Kings thought they were mature enough to face the Lakers. The same Lakers that defeated them on the first-round of the playoffs 2000.

But Shaquille O'Neal had another amazing night and Kobe Bryant showed his repertory on the key moments, as he always does.

44 points, 21 rebounds, 7 blocks, 1 of them to Jason Williams with 23 seconds remaining on the game. That was the Shaq's crop.

Kobe scored 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter, when the Lakers took the leadership, that would be definitive, and scored his 4 free throws to seal the result.

Together, they combined to score 29 of the Lakers 31 points in the third quarter, 46 of the 55 of the second half and 73 of the final 108.

The remaining Lakers did the other tasks, Rick Fox contained the growing light of Peja Stojakovic (6 of 18 attempts) and took 10 rebounds, Brian Shaw got 4 steals, Derek Fisher 8 rebounds.

For the Kings, Webber scored 34 points, his maximun against the Lakers, on 12 of 22 attempts, and Peja Stojakovic ended with 20 points.

The final of the first half found Sacramento leading 54-53, and averaging the third quarter their leadership continued 73-71, but there was the begining of a 19-7 Laker run that ended with Los Angeles up 90-80, and after that they were never even tied by Sacramento.

Lately, every time this two teams play each other, the key is under the boards, were one can see the superirity of Shaquille O'Neal, and the impotence of Divac and Pollard, that look like first row spectators.


Chris Webber (Sac): "That's just big Shaq...that's the reason they're so good."

Rick Adelman (DT Sac): "The guy is unbelievable" (about O'Neal)


Shaquille O'Neal (LAL) 44 pts. 21 reb. 7 blocks. 10 of 19 free throws
Kobe Bryant (LAL) 29 pts.
Chris Webber (Sac) 34 pts.