LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol had 28
points and eight rebounds, Shannon Brown scored 24 points and Kobe
Bryant rested as the Los Angeles Lakers finished their regular-season
home schedule with a 106-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on
Sasha Vujacic scored 13 points for the
Lakers, who lost six of nine before Gasol and the reserves pulled away
in the second half of their sixth straight win over the Kings, their
formerly fierce Pacific Division rivals.
Tyreke Evans scored 10 points before
his remarkable rookie season ended with a third-quarter ejection as the
Kings wrapped up their fourth straight losing season with their 11th
defeat in 12 games.
Bryant sat out to rest his litany of
injuries, including a sprained ankle and a broken finger, while center
Andrew Bynum missed his 12th straight game with a strained Achilles'
tendon. Both starters should be ready to play this weekend when the
top-seeded Lakers open defense of their NBA title.
After wrapping up the regular season
Wednesday night on the Clippers' red-and-blue court, the Lakers are
expected to open the playoffs Sunday against Kevin Durant's Oklahoma
Backup guard Jordan Farmar also shut
it down for the season after straining his left hamstring in the first
half, while Gasol played just 33 minutes — though he had to return in
the final 3 1/2 minutes to help the Lakers hold off the Kings, who got
within four points late before Brown's jumper with 28 seconds to play.
Beno Udrih scored 21 points and Jason
Thompson had 19 points and 16 rebounds as the Kings finished 14th in the
Western Conference at 25-57, an eight-win improvement on last season's
NBA-worst team. Sacramento will have another strong shot at a top-five
draft pick a year after dropping to fourth in last year's lottery.
Evans was tossed in the third quarter
by referee Derek Richardson, who whistled back-to-back technical fouls
when Evans apparently said something unsavory to him. Evans had just hit
consecutive layups to pull Sacramento within 67-66, and apparently was
angry about a foul not being called.
Evans is the leading candidate for the
NBA's rookie of the year award, entering the game averaging 20.3
points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan
and LeBron James are the only other NBA rookies to average a 20-5-5.
Evans had 10 points, three assists
and one rebound before his ejection.
The Lakers remain optimistic Bynum
will be back for the playoff opener. The 7-foot center, who was hurt in
late March, is expected to practice Friday and Saturday after running on
a treadmill two days in a row.
Ron Artest is finishing the
regular season as just another California blond: The Lakers'
attention-seeking forward and reserve center DJ Mbenga dyed their hair
dark yellow. Coach Phil Jackson said Artest and Mbenga were getting
plenty of grief from their teammates for their dye jobs. … Vujacic hit
buzzer-beating jumpers after the first and third quarters. … Brown
had the fourth 20-point game of his career. … Sacramento finished 7-34
on the road, losing eight of their last nine away from Arco Arena.
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