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Friday, March 24, 2006

Bryant made 28 in Lakers win

The main players in the Lakers squad answered when the team needed them. Kobe Bryant scored 28 points and Kwame Brown added a season-high 21 with 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, who posted an 87-80 win over the Sacramento Kings in a pivotal Western Conference battle.

Winning for just the third time in seven matches, the Lakers (36-34) earned a split of the season series and moved one game ahead of the Kings (34-34) into seventh place in the Western Conference.

"We're playing good basketball," Bryant noticed. He averaged 36.3 points in four meetings against the Kings this season. "We feel like we can carry it over into the playoffs."

In the other hand, Ron Artest paced Sacramento with 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Kings have lost three of their last four overall. Bonzi Wells came off the bench to score 15 points and grab nine rebounds.

The Lakers led by as many as 20 points in the contest and never trailed.

"It was a big win for us," said LA head coach Phil Jackson. "We caused a lot of turnovers and stepped up the tempo knowing they played last night."

Led by Bryant's 10 first-quarter points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field, the Lakers jumped out to a 30-14 lead after the opening frame. The most important part of the period was Los Angeles opening the contest on a 15-5 run.

The Kings outscored the Lakers 26-23 in the second stanza, but still trailed 53-40 at the break.

Bryant had 15 at halftime, while Brown added 11 points and six rebounds.

It's fair to say that the second half was more of the same as the Lakers continued to run in front.

LA opened the third period on an 8-2 run to take a 61-42 lead. The Lakers went on to outscore the Kings 19-18 in the quarter to take a 72-58 lead into the final frame.

As we saw in our screens, in the fourth quarter, the Kings outscored the Lakers 22-15 and managed to get within five points late, but it was not enough as Los Angeles held on.