As expected, the Lakers routed the in-state rival Kings 124-101 with all five starters sitting out the entire fourth quarter. In another display of balanced scoring, six Lakers scored in double figures, led by Pau Gasol’s 22 points to go along with seven rebounds. Kobe Bryant scored 20 points in just 28 minutes in his last showcase for MVP voters.
After the game, Coach Jackson said that his team played an “adequate” game, but he was not particularly thrilled with his team’s defense, despite holding the Kings to 44% shooting from the field. Jackson conceded that his team played a great second half–particularly in a third quarter in which they outscored Sacramento by a 39-24 margin.
“…Having home court advantage is the most basic thing you can talk about,” said Jackson in regards to the Lakers wrapping up the Western Conference’s number one seed an securing home court advantage up until the Finals. This season, Jackson said it is much more who teams draw, than actual positioning.
With the Lakers likely to face either Dallas or Denver in the first round, Jackson said the difference in the two teams is about “8-10″ points a night, also recounting the past three nail biters against the Mavericks. “I think that says a lot about how we play against Dallas,” said Jackson. “Very close, very competitive.”
When asked about the Western Conference as a whole heading into the playoffs, Jackson said, “Teams that play hard and play well sustain the effort in the post-season.” For the Lakers, Jackson said his team’s biggest concern is the injury status of several key players.