April 13, 2011
LA LAKERS (56-25) vs.
Coverage begins at 7:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
SACRAMENTO (AP) -- All of a sudden, the Los Angeles Lakers have major concerns other than their poor play down the stretch after an injury to center Andrew Bynum.
Concern that the Sacramento Kings could be moving south seems to have been replaced by the growing sense that it will soon become reality.
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The Lakers will be dealing with the aftermath of another injury to Bynum as they try to clinch the Western Conference's No. 2 seed Wednesday night in what will likely be the Kings' final game in Sacramento.
Los Angeles (56-25) ended a five-game skid with Tuesday's 102-93 home win over San Antonio, but it may have come at a cost. Bynum fell to the court after stepping on DeJuan Blair's foot during the second quarter and the shot-blocking 7-footer will have an MRI on Wednesday.
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Bynum was hurt while getting back on defense, awkwardly tumbling to the court and nearly doing the splits while putting an inordinate amount of weight on his right knee.
Coach Phil Jackson acknowledged that Bynum could be out for at least a few games.
"We've seen him go down a couple of times that have been debilitating, so there's a concern," Jackson said. "It was kind of a freaky play, but they usually are, and that's what basketball is."
The Lakers need a victory or a loss by Dallas to New Orleans on Wednesday to gain the No. 2 seed. Los Angeles has been the top seed in winning the NBA title the past two seasons.
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Jackson has won eight of his 11 titles as the conference's top seed. One of the seasons he didn't need a No. 1 seed to win it all brings back painful memories to Sacramento fans - 2001-02.
The Kings were the No. 1 seed that season and lost a dramatic West finals to the Lakers in seven games. It was part of an era when the franchise reached the playoffs eight straight times from 1999-2006.
Sacramento (24-57) hasn't been back to the postseason since, and likely won't be hosting NBA basketball again after 26 seasons in California's capital.
Anaheim's City Council issued the bonds needed to entice the franchise and new federal trademark rights have been requested.
The Kings' owners, the Maloof brothers, have until Monday to officially file for permission to relocate, and a vote would likely come within weeks of that request. Approval by a simple majority of the owners is virtually guaranteed.
"It's going to be a basketball funeral," said Robert Crashner, a Kings season-ticket holder for almost a decade. "Unless a miracle happens, I guess it's going to be over."
The Lakers have won eight of their last nine against the Kings, and four straight in Sacramento. The Kings could be without high-scoring guard Tyreke Evans, who sat out Monday's 120-112 loss to Oklahoma City with a sprained left ankle.
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Still, Sacramento wants to give its fans a memorable send-off.
"If it's the last game in this building, we want to close it out with a win over the Lakers and if it's something that will catapult us to next season here, we want to win it with a win over the Lakers," coach Paul Westphal said.