Lakers remain kings of the road, win at Sacramento
Sunday, May 19, 2002
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Nobody silences an enthusiastic crowd like the Los Angeles Lakers.
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, who scored 84 points in the final two games of the Lakers' playoff sweep of Sacramento last season, had 10 points in the fourth as Los Angeles hung on to win the opener in the series widely expected to decide the league title.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night.
Robert Horry had 18 points for Los Angeles, which jumped to a big first-quarter lead and never trailed. The Lakers won for the sixth time in their last seven trips to Arco Arena despite the best efforts of the deafening fans and a late rally by the Kings.
Sacramento cut it to 98-93 with two minutes left on a reverse layup by Bobby Jackson, who had 21 points. But O'Neal outmuscled two Kings and tipped a rebound to Horry for a dunk, and Bryant hit two free throws to bring calm to Arco.
Los Angeles hasn't lost a road playoff game since Game 5 of the 2000 NBA Finals -- one game before the Lakers won the first of their two straight titles.
Chris Webber had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings, who haven't been this deep in the postseason since 1981. Their nerves -- and the 19 fouls whistled against the Kings in the second half -- made the difference.
The two-time champions practically yawned at the crowd with a hot start and a coolly efficient finish to their 24th victory in 26 playoff games.