Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Kings Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  April 14, 2011

From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Before this game, I decided I’d provide a formal breakdown only in the event of a loss. I mean, let’s be honest. At the end of the day, is the nitty gritty of how the Lakers managed to beat the lowly Kings really all that compelling? But on the flip side, if the Lakers actually dropped a contest to the Pacific Division bottom-feeders, which by extension means dropping the second seed in the West, fans would likely and rightly be curious to know what the (N.S.F.W.) happened. Thankfully, if you missed tonight’s game, you won’t learn a thing about what happened in this space. Well, except one small, trivial detail. The Lakers blew a 20-point fourth-quarter lead and required overtime to secure a victory.

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: What a day.  What a surreal, strange, muddled, confusing day. It started with bated breath, as all of Lakers Nation awaited the news of Andrew Bynum’s MRI.  But as we waited, a funny thing happened.  Like a single snowflake rolling down a mountain, turning into a gigantic ball of snow, the news of Kobe Bryant’s casual use of a gay slur towards a referee in last night’s contest began to move to the forefront of any and all Lakers conversation.  Kobe came out with a statement that showed all the remorse of an Enron executive, the league “looked into” the incident and decided to lay the financial hammer down, and the news that Bynum was given more or less a clean bill of health was quickly pushed to the back page. And then there was a little thing called the last game of the regular season … against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento … quite possibly the last game ever in Sacramento.  The Lakers had a lot riding on tonight’s contest.  Technically, the Kings had nothing riding on it.  But we knew better.

From Daniel Buerge, Lakers Nation: With just one game remaining in the regular season everything was on the line tonight for the Lakers. With a win the team would clinch the second seed in the Western Conference and assure home court advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. A loss would drop Los Angeles to the third seed, and would give them an unfavorable match-up with a very tough Portland Trail Blazers squad in the first round. The arena tonight was more energetic than usual, as the fans in Sacramento knew that this very well could be the Kings last home game in the city of Sacramento. In an arena that is known for its raucous crowd, the Lakers knew they would have to play with enough energy to take the crowd out of the game early.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: Once the shot went through the basket, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant let out his signature laser-beam glare and swung out his arms. The 23-foot jumper extended the Lakers’ lead to five points against Sacramento with 1:53 remaining in overtime Wednesday night. It also appeared to be a dagger that Bryant pierced into a standing-room-only crowd in Power Balance Pavilion that clanged their cowbells and yelled as loudly as if it were Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference finals. The image provided a perfect symbolic ending to the Lakers’ 116-108 victory over the Kings in presumably their last game in Sacramento. “It’s fitting the game would end like this at Sacramento,” Bryant told Lakers broadcaster John Ireland after scoring 36 points on 13-for-24 shooting, referring to the Lakers’ contentious history with the Kings in the 2000, 2001 and 2002 playoffs. “I guess the ghosts of the past have still been haunting us.”

From Mark Medina, LA Times: They’re a decade removed from it all, but assistant Lakers coach Brian Shaw and former Kings star Chris Webber still debate. They bring up the contentious history between the Lakers and the Sacramento Kings — meeting in the first round of the 2000 playoffs, 2001 West semifinals and 2002 West Conference Finals. They relive the subplots surrounding the series.  And Shaw makes sure to boast how the Lakers proved to be the better team, winning all playoff series en route to an NBA title. “When we bring it up and we talk about it, I say, ‘You guys looked at it as a rivalry,’ ”  Shaw said. “But you never beat us. How could it be a rivalry?” Much has happened since those matchups. The Lakers’ franchise fragmented after the 2003-04 season, when the team traded Shaq, fired Jackson, Derek Fisher left via free agency and Kobe Bryant was left  to lead a less talented team. The woes stacked up with a missed playoff appearance in 2005, early first-round exits in 2006 and 2007 and an offseason in which Bryant demanded to be traded. But the Lakers have since appeared in three consecutive NBA Finals and won two NBA championships after acquiring Pau Gasol and Fisher in 2008.

Phillip Barnett