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Lakers Beat Kings In Sacramento, 106-100

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Robert Sucre #50 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on December 6, 2013 in Sacramento, California. (credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Robert Sucre #50 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on December 6, 2013 in Sacramento, California. (credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Lakers vs. FC Barcelona The Los Angeles Lakers face off with Pau Gasol’s former team and European Champions FC Barcelona on October 7, 2010. Nike's House of Hoops In Barcelona and Basketball Clinic Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol go against Ricky Rubio and Juan Carlos Navarro on a 2-on-2 game Lakers Travel To London Pilots hold up a Lakers flag before the Los Angeles Lakers travel to London at LAX on September 30, 2010, in Los Angeles, California. Barcelona Goes Crazy For The Lakers The Lakers arrived in Barcelona, Spain to huge crowds and lots of media at their practice inside Palau Blaugrana stadium. Lakers star Pau Gasol is from Spain.

 SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Jodie Meeks made two huge 3-pointers in the final minutes to finish with 19 points, lifting the Los Angeles Lakers past the Sacramento Kings 106-100 Friday night in what was expected to their last game before Kobe Bryant returns.

Pau Gasol had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Steve Blake added 13 points and 10 assists for the Lakers, who held the Kings scoreless for nearly 3 1/2 minutes until Ben McLemore’s meaningless 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds remaining.

The Lakers are figuring to get an even bigger boost when Bryant returns against Toronto on Sunday, nearly eight months since undergoing surgery on his torn left Achilles tendon.

DeMarcus Cousins and McLemore each scored 20 points, and Isaiah Thomas added 14 points and a season-high nine assists as Sacramento lost its sixth straight game.

The Lakers outshot the Kings 47.7 to 43 percent but were outrebounded 51-36. Los Angeles forced 17 turnovers — and committed only 12 — to seize control in the final minutes.

After going down by 10 points late in the third quarter, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni called a timeout and shouted to his players to improve defensively. They responded, scoring 11 straight to go ahead 88-87 on Blake’s 3 early in the fourth.

Meeks made a 3-pointer before Gasol’s 20-footer gave the Lakers a 98-97 lead with 1:30 remaining. Meeks followed with another 3-pointer to extend the Lakers’ lead to 101-97 with 1:09 to play.

Wesley Johnson stole the ball from McLemore on the next possession. And Nick Young followed with a 20-foot jumper to send most of the announced sellout of 17,317 — most wearing white T-shirts as part of Sacramento’s “white out” — to the exits.

The best news for the Lakers came earlier Friday, when Bryant announced his return in a dramatic video posted on his Facebook page. Bryant didn’t make the trip to Sacramento, and Los Angeles had only nine healthy players — and one point guard — after injuries to Steve Nash (back and hamstring), Jordan Farmar (left hamstring tear) and Chris Kaman (back spasms).

Robert Sacre, who started at center for the first time this season in place of Jordan Hill, helped the Lakers go ahead by eight points early in the first quarter. Thomas ignited the Kings with 14 points and seven assists in the first half as they rallied to take a 51-43 lead late in the second quarter.

Cousins’ free throws with 3:35 remaining in the fourth gave Sacramento a 97-93 lead. But the Kings didn’t score again until McLemore’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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