Despite being without All-Star forward Peja Stojackovic for the fourth-straight game, the Kings won Game 2 at home in front of a raucous home crowd at Arco Arena, tying the series at 1-1.
It wasn’t going to be an easy task. The Lakers had only lost once at home during the first two rounds, and with Kings’ head coach Rick Adelman going with a shortened bench, Sacramento would have its work cut out.
The game was close through the first six minutes, with the Kings holding a 13-11 lead with 5:40 left in the opening quarter, but it was all Sacramento after that. Forward Hedo Turkoglu, who was starting in place of Stojakovic, and Chris Webber combined for 13 points and helped the Kings go on a 19-4 run to close out the quarter, and take a 32-15 lead.
Sacramento would use its defense to further it leads early in the second quarter. The Kings were doubling Lakers’ big man Shaquille O’Neal hard, holding the former league MVP to just two points over the first 16 minutes of the game. The Kings were up 38-17 with 8:30 to go when O’Neal would would wake up.
Shaq scored 13 points over the rest of the quarter, cutting Sacramento’s lead to 52-40 at the half, but that was close as L.A. would get the rest of the way.
The Kings ramped up their defense coming out of the break, holding the Lakers scoreless for the first 4:18 of the third, and took a 60-40 lead. Webber, Turkoglu and Doug Christie took over on the offensive end, combining for 12 points over the final 7:21, helping Sacramento put things out of reach with a 75-52 lead after three.
The Lakers would try to get back in the game in the fourth, but were never able to get their deficit to under 12 points. Anytime it looked like L.A. was on the verge of making it close, Webber or point guard Mike Bibby came up with a clutch basket to keep the Lakers at bay.
Webber led the way with 26 points and 9 rebounds, while Bibby chipped in with 24 as Sacramento went on to a 103-90 win to take a 2-1 series lead.
After the game, Webber spoke with the Associated Press:
“It’s a big night for our fans, because we feel like we’re a good road team,’’ Webber said. “We play so well at home, but sometimes when you get on the road and you release that pressure, it can help you a lot.’’
Overall, it was a dominant Game 3 performance by the Kings. They led for all but 16 seconds, and had a .532 eFG%, per basketball reference.
What made this win more impressive was that Adelman only used seven players throughout the game. One of those players, Scot Pollard, was only on the court for 6:36. Webber, Bibby and Christie each played more than 43 minutes, despite Sacramento being up by as many as 26 in the final quarter.
You can watch the Kings highlights from the game below. Not the best quality, but you’ll be able to see just how well Sacramento played:
On to some more links:
The NBA continues to work towards a solution to resume the season. NBC Sports’ James Ham looks at the Kings’ playoff chances if the league proceeds with the Orlando option.
Where would you rank the Kings’ jersey’s compared to the rest of the league? Scott Gleeson of USA TODAY has Sacramento far down his list of best NBA jerseys.
Webber should be in the Hall of Fame. NBA legend Karl Malone gave some praise to C-Webb in a recent interview. (h/t Fansided)
The Kings have had some major misses in free agency over the years. Mike Cruz of Clutch Points listed his worst five signings of all time.