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(Saturday, March 30th)
Final Score: LA Lakers 103, Sacramento 98
Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant's 19 points moved him into fourth all-time in scoring and his free throws down the stretch allowed the Lakers to pull out a 103-98 decision over the Sacramento Kings.
Bryant finished just short of a triple-double while fighting through a bone spur in his foot, with his 14 assists and nine boards helping Los Angeles stay tied for the eighth playoff spot with the Jazz, who also won on Saturday.
Bryant's jumper in the second quarter moved him past Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list. Dwight Howard tallied 24 points and 15 rebounds and Pau Gasol finished with 12 points and 10 assists in the victory.
"I have nothing but praise for him obviously," said Bryant on passing Chamberlain. "To pass him up is a huge honor to say the least."
Tyreke Evans finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Kings, who had won four of their last six coming in. DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 11 boards in the setback.
The Lakers played from behind most of the first half, but a late run toward the end of the third put them in control for good.
Trailing by six, Steve Blake cut the Lakers' deficit in half with a 3-pointer, while simultaneously sparking a 14-1 quarter closing run. Bryant's free throws tied the contest and then found Howard for a dunk to put the Lakers on top and they held an 82-75 lead heading into the fourth.
Marcus Thornton scored the Kings' first 12 points of the final quarter before a pull up jumper from Evans had Sacramento within two, 91-89, however Blake answered with a triple to keep them from coming closer.
A driving score from Evans again had the Kings within two with just 1:18 to play, but after Bryant split a pair from the line, Sacramento couldn't capitalize.
Following a timeout, it was Cousins who attempted a game-tying 3-pointer, which fell short. Bryant then sank a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left to account for the final margin.
"I guess you can't really talk bad about the way these guys competed tonight," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "I thought that our guys did everything they could from a statistical standpoint, outside of winning the basketball game."
Sacramento jumped out to a 12-point first quarter lead, but Bryant rifled off six straight points in the second to pull the Lakers within one at 41-40.
A 3-pointer from Blake with 2:24 to go until halftime put Los Angeles ahead by one, but Chuck Hayes put the Kings back in front with a score at the other end and Sacramento took a 57-53 lead into the break.
The Lakers improved to 15-24 on the road ... Lakers guard Steve Nash tried to play through a hamstring injury, but left less than two minutes into the game ... Blake scored 15 points ... Thornton had 18 for the Kings.
03/31 02:40:50 ET