Lakers 106, Kings 100

Considering the Los Angeles Lakers’ only remaining goal in the

regular season is to avoid adding more players to their lengthy

injury list, their final home victory wasn’t much of a success.

And while Jordan Farmar could be a problem with his strained

hamstring, Pau Gasol is just grateful he didn’t turn into

another.

Gasol had 28 points and eight rebounds, Shannon Brown scored 24

points and Kobe Bryant rested as the Lakers hung on for a 106-100

victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Sasha Vujacic scored 13 points for the Lakers, who lost six of

nine before Gasol and the reserves pulled away in the second half

of their sixth straight win over the Kings, their formerly fierce

Pacific Division rivals.

Yet the Western Conference’s top playoff seed didn’t emerge

unscathed from a meaningless game against the 14th-place team.

Farmar, the backup guard who regularly plays key minutes, strained

his left hamstring in the first half, and the Lakers don’t know the

injury’s severity.

Gasol didn’t get hurt while playing just 33 minutes, but the

Kings forced coach Phil Jackson to put his star Spaniard back in

the game on cooled-down legs to hold off a late rally. The Kings

got within four points late before Brown’s jumper with 28 seconds

to play.

“I was hoping we could put a run together in the fourth quarter

so I wouldn’t have to go back in,” Gasol said. “We feel pretty

good about what we’ve done, though. We don’t like the injuries and

all, but hopefully (Farmar’s leg) won’t be too bad.”

The Lakers didn’t even take a chance with Bryant, who sat out to

rest his litany of injuries, including a sprained ankle and a

broken finger. Center Andrew Bynum missed his 12th straight game

with a strained Achilles’ tendon. Both starters should be ready to

play this weekend when the top-seeded Lakers open defense of their

NBA title.

“It’s fun to play against a team that’s playing so loose out

there, but we’re just trying to fine-tune it and get ready for

what’s coming up,” said Brown, who’s dealing with a sprained right

thumb that limits his dunking abilities.

After wrapping up the regular season Wednesday night on the

Clippers’ red-and-blue court, the Lakers are expected to open the

playoffs Sunday against Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tyreke Evans scored 10 points before his remarkable rookie

season ended with a third-quarter ejection as the Kings wrapped up

their fourth straight losing season with their 11th defeat in 12

games.

Beno Udrih scored 21 points and Jason Thompson had 19 points and

16 rebounds as the Kings finished 25-57, an eight-win improvement

on last season’s NBA-worst team. Sacramento will have another

strong shot at a top-five draft pick a year after dropping to

fourth in last year’s lottery.

“Honestly, I’m sorry it’s over,” first-year coach Paul

Westphal said. “I really like this team. We knew that we had a

hill to climb, and the journey is just beginning. We added eight

more wins and added some players we can build around, so by any

measure, there was improvement. The first thing is that we had to

compete this year. We did that, and one of these days, we’ll learn

how to win.”

Evans was tossed in the third quarter by referee Derek

Richardson, who whistled back-to-back technical fouls when Evans

apparently said something unsavory to him. Evans had just hit

consecutive layups to pull Sacramento within 67-66, and apparently

was angry about a foul not being called.

Evans is the leading candidate for the NBA’s rookie of the year

award, entering the game averaging 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and

5.8 assists. Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James are

the only other NBA rookies to average a 20-5-5.

Evans had 10 points, three assists and one rebound before his

ejection. Sacramento finished 7-34 on the road, losing eight of its

last nine away from Arco Arena.

“I think we just need to play together a little bit more,”

said Carl Landry, a midseason acquisition in the trade sending

Kevin Martin to Houston. “We’ve got the pieces here, and I’m sure

we’ll add a couple more with free agents and the draft. I think

we’re the second-youngest team in the league, so once we improve

our basketball I.Q., get used to the league and learn the things to

do and not to do, I think we’ll be all right.”

NOTES: The Lakers remain optimistic Bynum will be back for the

playoff opener. The 7-foot center, who was hurt in late March, is

expected to practice Friday and Saturday after running on a

treadmill two days in a row. … Ron Artest is finishing the

regular season as just another California blond: The Lakers’

attention-seeking forward and reserve center DJ Mbenga dyed their

hair dark yellow. Coach Phil Jackson said Artest and Mbenga were

getting plenty of grief from their teammates for their dye jobs.

… Vujacic hit buzzer-beating jumpers after the first and third

quarters. … Brown had the fourth 20-point game of his career.