The Los Angeles Lakers have had success for many years against many teams. But none of it has come easier than it has against the Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers again proved their dominance over the Kings on Monday night in Sacramento as James Worthy scored a game-high 26 points and Magic Johnson recorded his 11th triple double of the season in a 99-89 victory."They're just good," Sacramento coach Dick Motta said. "They have no flaws. The Lakers know how to do things right. Don't count them out when they play for all the marbles."
Los Angeles particularly knows how to do things correctly against Sacramento. The Lakers have a 27-2 record against Sacramento since the Kings moved to Northern California six years ago. Sacramento hasn't beaten Los Angeles since Jan. 10, 1989 and has not been victorious on the road against Los Angeles in 40 games, dating to Oct. 30, 1974.
Monday night, it was a balanced offense which stopped Sacramento. Worthy led six scorers in double figures, including Johnson, who scored 19 points, tallied 14 assists and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Lakers now trail the first-place Portland Trail Blazers, who were idle Monday night, by a half game in the Pacific Division. The Lakers are 23-13 on the road, 50-20 overall.
Lionel Simmons scored a team-high 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Sacramento. Rory Sparrow added 24 points and Antoine Carr tallied 19 points for the Kings, who dropped to 17-16 at home and 18-49 overall.
"I feel that there was a moral victory in playing tough and keeping it close with the Lakers," Simmons said. "We had opportunities and we didn't get things done."
Sacramento, which never led, made 3 of only 4 free throws in the first half. But the Kings used a 7-0 run to cut their deficit to 43-39 on Simmons' offensive rebound and tip-in with 2:52 left before halftime.
Worthy, however, hit two quick jumpers surrounding Jim Les' second 3-pointer of the game, and A.C. Green ended the half with a layup with 4.1 second left to push the Lakers' hafltime cushion to 52-44.
The 50th win was a milestone of sorts for first-year coach Mike Dunleavy, whose team has rebounded after a 2-5 start to chase Portland.
"We got win number 50," Dunleavy said. "With 50 wins we are trying to hang tight and have a shot at winning the Pacific Division."
Sacramento, which stumbled to a 23-59 record last season, must win five of its remaining 15 games to equal that mark, the Kings' worst record in their six years in Northern California.
The Lakers are still aiming at their 10th straight Pacific Division title.
"When the game is one the line we've been together for so long we seem to do things right at the right time," said Scott, who scored 14 points. "We just have guys on this team who thrive on pressure situations."
Clippers 106, Suns 94
The Suns' team-record eight-game road winning streak came to an end at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, thanks to some poor third-quarter shooting and big efforts by the Clippers' Charles Smith and Danny Manning.
Smith had 25 points and Manning scored 8 of his 18 in the final period. The Suns hurt themselves with an ice-cold third quarter, going 5-for-17 from the field as the Clippers turned a seven-point deficit into a 73-69 lead.
Kevin Johnson led Phoenix with 22 points and 13 assists.
Magic 115, Warriors 106
Orlando continued its strong showing at home as Scott Skiles scored 13 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Magic past Golden State.
The victory was the third straight for the second-year Magic, which has won 11 of its last 15 home games and now has 24 wins - six more than in its inaugural season.
Dennis Scott scored 25 points and reserve Jerry Reynolds added 23 for Orlando. Golden State got 33 points from Tim Hardaway and 32 from Chris Mullin.
Bullets 113, Nets 106
John Williams scored a season-high 24 points and Harvey Grant added 20 as Washington won for the third straight time and the Nets lost their 16th straight road game.
New Jersey has lost 26 of its last 27 road games and 30 of 35 overall. The Nets' only victory away from home in the last four months was at Miami on Jan. 26.
Washington's top scorer, Bernard King, had just four points. The Bullets announced after the game that King will be out for a week with recurring back problems.
Pistons 118, Nuggets 94
James Edwards' season-high 32 points and 27 by reserve Vinnie Johnson led the visiting Pistons, who scored 70 points in the second half to hand the Nuggets their seventh straight loss.
Detroit pulled away from a 65-65 tie midway through the third quarter with a 17-4 burst, then put the game away with fourth-quarter runs of 14-2 and 12-3.
Denver's Michael Adams, coming off an NBA season-best 54-point performance on Saturday, managed only 19 points - just three after being kneed in the leg midway through the third quarter.