Lakers beat Kings, win conference title

LOS ANGELES Pau Gasol had 22 points, leading MVP candidate Kobe Bryant added 20, and the Lakers beat the short-handed Sacramento Kings 124-101 Tuesday night to clinch the No. 1 seed in the West and home-court advantage throughout the conference playoffs.

The Lakers (57-25), who won eight of their last nine games, begin the playoffs this weekend - most likely Sunday - against Denver or Dallas. It will be the Nuggets unless they beat Memphis and Dallas loses to New Orleans on Wednesday night. If the Hornets win, they'll have the same record as the Lakers, but Los Angeles wins the tiebreaker by virtue of a better conference record.

Gasol shot 9-of-11 before coming out of the game for good with 2:38 left in the third quarter, and Bryant joined him on the bench moments later after having shot just 3-of-13. But he went 13-of-14 from the foul line.

Lamar Odom added 15 points and 12 rebounds, Vladimir Radmanovic scored 14, Jordan Farmar added 13 points, and Ronny Turiaf had 10 points and six assists for the Lakers, who went strictly with reserves in the fourth quarter.

Quincy Douby led the Kings (38-44) with a career-high 32 points. Beno Udrih scored 22 points, Francisco Garcia added 15 and Sheldon Williams had 12 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.


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