The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings 113-102 Sunday without Kobe Bryant who sat due to a sprained ankle and case of the flu. Antawn Jamison led the Lakers off the bench, with 27 points and nine rebounds.
The Lakers have now won six of their last seven after beating the Kings, though Bryant missed his first game of the year. Metta World Peace finished with 22 points and, Jodie Meeks ended with just six points after starting in place of the injured Bryant.
The Lakers led by six after the first quarter and as much as 10 in the second before the Kings stormed back. Isaiah Thomas led Sacramento with 26 points and six assists, but it wasn’t enough to stick with the Lakers in the second half.
The Lakers tightened their play in the third quarter, regaining the lead and never looking back. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard both finished with double-doubles to help the Lakers pull away.
Nash finished with 19 points and 12 assists, while Howard added 12 points and 17 rebounds. With the win, the Lakers are now four games above .500 for the first time this season.
Antawn Jamison was clutch off the bench, going five-for-eight from behind the arc in the Lakers first win without both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol on the floor since 2008. Gasol has missed the last 19 games due to an injured right foot.
The Lakers go to Phoenix Monday for a match-up with the Suns, and Bryant is not expected to play for the second straight night. The Utah Jazz are currently a game behind the Lakers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, making every game down the stretch that much more important.
The Kings have played much better basketball since the All-Star break but continue to be the worst road team in all of the NBA. The Kings have now lost 12 of their last 13 road games, making for a 6-29 road record on the year. Sacramento returns home to face the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday.
There’s no telling how long Kobe Bryant will be out, but we all know he will play when he feels he is ready. With Pau Gasol out for another week and Bryant taking it day-to-day, the Lakers will rely on Dwight Howard’s dominance in the paint and Steve Nash’s control at the point to keep winning. The Lakers beat the Kings Sunday after pulling away in the fourth quarter but will look for a more balanced attack Monday with the playoffs on the line from here on out.