A grueling series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings heads back to L.A. for Game 5, for a picture perfect conclusion. The Lakers took the first two — at home — while the Kings took the second two — at home — setting up this winner-take-all final game. Chris Webber and the Kings sucked the momentum out of the Lakers in Sacramento, squeaking by in Game 3 and running away with the win in Game 4. The “Bench Mob” of the Kings outscored the Lakers bench 76-19 in the last two games, and were the difference makers in the series not ending earlier.
Being in Los Angeles gives the Lakers a huge advantage over the Kings outside of home court advantage. The Lakers are 40-5 at home while the Kings are just 14-29 on the road this season. Ultimately in Sacramento it was all Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant as nobody else could really get it going. O’Neal struggled in the second-half of both games on the road, and looked exhausted.
The Lakers get out to an early lead and the Kings seem to be off. Two illegal defense fouls, earning a technical foul is not where you want to be. Webber was called for goal tending, and a loose ball foul as well. Even Rick Adelman received a technical foul in this first quarter. The Staples Center is absolutely rocking, with this crowd. Both teams have had their share of complaints as the referees are calling it fairly loose. Adelman told his team they were playing too emotionally and to let him talk to the officials, during a timeout. Webber picked up another illegal defense call, stop it!
O’Neal was back to form closing in on a double-double after 12 minutes with 10 points and 7 rebounds. The Kings left their rhythm back at Arco Arena as the shot 36.3% the Lakers shot 59%. The biggest difference for the Lakers so far is the 15 points that came from players not named Bryant or O’Neal.
Lakers keep rolling
Looking for a spark on offense, Tony Delk checks in for the Kings to start the second quarter. After not playing in Game 4, the Lakers bring in Derek Fisher who hadn’t missed a game from coaches decision since the 1996-1997 season. Fisher said during a film session that he could stop and guard Delk as they played AAU together in Memphis. What you notice in this quarter, the Lakers are hitting outside shots tonight, something they couldn’t do the previous two. The Kings were able to cheat on defense and stay back to crash the boards, that’s hurting them tonight.
Midway through the second quarter the Lakers are up to shooting 66% from the floor as this game starts to get away from the Kings. Webber is playing more outside in this game than he was, which is allowing O’Neal to stay-home and collect rebounds; not allowing the Kings to get second chance points. Lakers will win the rebounding battle in the first half 29-12.
Really cool shot of Arco, filled with fans watching the game on big screens- this is what it’s all about.
It’s all about energy
There must be a lid on the hoop for the Kings tonight, Vlade Divac, Nick Anderson, and Jason Williams all went scoreless in the second quarter. Heck, Williams was completely invisible, not a stat tallied- not even a turnover. As the half closes one thing is fully apparent, O’Neal cannot be stopped as is just too much for the Kings tonight. 20 points, 14 rebounds and +17 when on the floor. On the Kings side, Webber is doing all of the work, only Scot Pollard and Peja Stojaković have made more than one shot in the first half. Adelman needs to calm his team down at the half and regroup. O’Neal was double and triple teamed successfully in the last two games, not tonight though.
To add more fuel-to-the-fire for the Lakers, Divac attempted a long range three at the buzzer to which Bryant rejected. The fans were never quiet in the first half, and the Kings couldn’t shake it.
O’Neal is too much
The Kings start out the second half with a turnover, followed by a miss and are not getting back on defense. After a rare O’Neal miss, Divac get called for a charge. Then, a technical foul. Already, this second half is crumbling for the Kings and the Lakers never let up off the gas. Divac is in foul trouble early in the second half as he picks up his fourth foul 3:30 into the third quarter.
In this third quarter the Kings had two scoring droughts of more than three minutes each. The first included two missed shots, two turnovers and two O’Neal rejections; the second saw six straight misses from the the Kings. O’Neal wasn’t in foul trouble and was able to play aggressive leaving the Kings settling for outside shots, clearly not dropping. The Kings were not playing “attack-a-Shaq” as John Thompson claimed and that was the difference. A.C. Green showed up to play this game as well, making his presence felt on the offensive glass with three just in this quarter. Pollard tried to swing the momentum with a hard foul on O’Neal, that just riled up the crowd more- and the Lakers.
The Kings only scored 18 in the third quarter to the Lakers 30.
Close it out and move onto Phoenix
More of the same for the Kings as they start out the final period scoreless for the first 2:10. They actually don’t make a field goal for the first 5:12. Adelman had his bench play the entire quarter as the lead was too big and the Lakers were too much. On the Lakers side, O’Neal was the only starter to get any playing time (1:57) as Phil Jackson had his bench close out the series.
The Lakers and Kings rivalry would continue to grow as this was only the beginning.
Series stat lines
O’Neal: 147 points, 87 rebounds, 12 blocks, 14 assists
Bryant: 139 points, 22 rebounds, 18 assists
Rice: 80 points, 25 rebounds, 17 assists
Webber: 122 points, 48 rebounds, 27 assists, 9 blocks
Delk: 56 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists
Divac: 56 points, 36 rebounds, 14 assists
The Phoenix Suns are next in the bracket as the Western Conference playoffs move on for a showdown on May 7, 2000.