Western Conference finals

May 18, 2002|By Milton Kent

Western Conference finals

No. 1 Sacramento vs. No. 3 L.A. Lakers

Playoff path: Sacramento beat Utah, 3-1, in the first round and Dallas, 4-1, in the conference semifinals. Los Angeles swept Portland in three games in the first round and beat San Antonio in five games in the conference semifinals.

Season series: Lakers won, 3-1.

Kings outlook: Sacramento is making its first appearance in the Western finals since 1981, when the franchise was located in Kansas City, Mo. ... The Kings have won four straight road playoff games (a franchise record) and six of their past eight, dating to last season. ... Point guard Mike Bibby has scored 20 or more points in six playoff games, including each of the past four, and leads the Kings in three-pointers made (16). ... Chris Webber has double doubles in each of Sacramento's nine playoff games, but aggravated a left ankle injury in the Game 5 clincher over Dallas.

Lakers outlook: Los Angeles is advancing to the conference finals for a third straight year and for the fourth time in five years. ... The Lakers have won an NBA record 11 straight road playoff teams, dating to the 2000 Finals. ... Los Angeles has held opponents to 40 percent or less from the field in five of nine playoff games. ... The Kings were the second-highest scoring team in the league in the regular season, but the Lakers held them under 100 points in all four games. ... Derek Fisher has hit 53 percent of his three-point attempts in his past 19 playoff games. ... Kobe Bryant is leading all remaining playoff participants in minutes per game at 43.9.

Bottom line: The Kings fought hard all season to get the home court just for this series, and they'll need it to fend off the two-time champions. Provided Shaquille O'Neal doesn't suffer any more injuries, the Lakers will seize upon Peja Stojakovic's absence in the first two games and steal a win at Arco Arena. That will be enough to send Los Angeles off for a threepeat.

Prediction: Lakers in six.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.