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Todd

KINGS VS LAKERS GAME 6

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GOOOOOO KINGS

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers are in the unfamiliar position of needing to win to save their season. The Sacramento Kings are in the unfamiliar position of needing to win to reach the NBA Finals.

The teams meet in Game Six of the Western Conference finals Friday night, and if the last two games are any indication, it should be quite a contest.

The Lakers are the two-time defending NBA champions. But after breezing through the first two rounds, they may have met their match in the Kings. Los Angeles has lost three games in this series after going 23-2 in its previous 25 playoff games.

If the Lakers want to force Game Seven, they have to have someone other than Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant contribute on offense. No one else is averaging double figures in the postseason, and the third scorer seems to vary from game to game.

In Los Angeles' Game Four win, forward Robert Horry had 18 points and 14 rebounds in 44 minutes. However, Horry had just one basket in the same 44 minutes in Game Five. Reserves such as Devean George, Samaki Walker and Brian Shaw are not contributing, and the bench scored just five points Tuesday.

In contrast, the Kings are on the verge of winning the series despite receiving a grand total of two points from forward Peja Stojakovic. The All-Star missed the first four games of the series with a sprained right ankle but returned in Tuesday's 92-91 win, playing 18 minutes off the bench.

Stojakovic practiced Thursday and is expected to play Friday. He may start or he may come off the bench to spell Hedo Turkoglu, who has averaged nearly 11 points per game in the series.

The last two games have been decided by one point. Horry's 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Lakers a 100-99 victory in Game Four, and Mike Bibby hit a jumper with 8.2 seconds left to give the Kings the win in Game Five.

The Lakers are facing elimination for the third time since Phil Jackson became coach in 1999. In 2000, they routed the Kings in Game Five of the first round and rallied past Portland in Game Seven of the conference finals. During their title runs, the only other time in which they trailed a series was after losing the opener of the 2001 Finals to Philadelphia.

The last time the Kings were this close to the Finals was 1981, when the franchise was in Kansas City and opened a 3-2 lead on Houston in the conference finals. They lost the next two games.

The franchise has not appeared in the Finals since 1951, when it defeated the New York Knicks in seven games as the Rochester Royals. This is the furthest the Kings have advanced since moving from Kansas City in 1985

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the refs in the NBA are such a joke, doug christie gets assaulted by kobe and he never gets the foul call, oh well its obivous to me who the NBA and NBC wants to be in the finals.

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I didn't see the game because I was exhausted and went straight to bed at 9:30 last night. I did happen to see Rick Adelman's press conference statements on ESPNEWS, and he was bemoaning the calls as well. You know what I just don't get? People always say David Stern and the NBA want this team in the finals or they don't want this team (like Milwaukee last year, Sacramento this year). If they don't want them there, WHY BOTHER PLAYING? Why tell the teams that each of them has a chance for the Finals, but all along as commish you're rooting for them NOT to get there? That is so bogus, and I have no doubt the credibility of some of the way these games are called comes into question.

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I remember about a year ago I saw an interview with Stern and he said the NBA doesn't have to create ideal matchups or anything like that. Watching what happens over time creates great story lines and he loves watching them evolve just like any other NBA fan.

I really don't think there's ever a conspiracy. The Lakers may have got the bulk of the calls (I didn't see the game) but that's just how it went in that one particular game.

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