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Lakers search for success in Sacramento

The Lakers will continue their grueling season-opening stretch of three games in three nights when they visit California's capital for the Sacramento Kings' home opener.

LA, which will return home to play Utah on Tuesday, came up a little short in its own home opener on Christmas Day when the club blew an 11-point lead in the final four minutes, falling to Chicago 88-87.

The Bulls scored the final seven points Sunday, as Luol Deng came up with several big defensive plays and Derrick Rose got a tough one-handed runner to fall in the closing seconds, giving Chicago an exciting comeback victory.

Kobe Bryant, playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist, finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and had one last chance to steal the win, but his drive was met by a trio of defenders at the baseline, and Deng's block as the buzzer sounded sealed the dramatic win.

The Lakers, who underwent rampant changes in the offseason, didn't help themselves by missing all four of their fourth quarter foul shots.

"We beat ourselves at the end," Bryant said. "Turnovers and free throws."

Pau Gasol totaled 14 points and eight boards for LA while Steve Blake scored 12 off the bench in Mike Brown's debut as coach for the team. Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, totaled four points in 25 minutes for LA, which fell to 20-18 all-time on December 25.

The Lakers played without center Andrew Bynum, who began serving a four-game suspension for making unnecessary and excessive contact with Dallas' J.J. Barea in last year's playoffs.

The Kings, meanwhile, enter the lockout-shortened season hoping to accentuate their young legs with newly-added "contributors," players that can give coach Paul Westphal solid minutes every night and let him hit the opposition in waves.

After adding Chuck Hayes to an interior core that features up and coming star DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and J.J. Hickson, and re-signing scoring machine Marcus Thornton to pair with Tyreke Evans and rookie Jimmer Fredette in the backcourt, Sacramento continued implementing its plan by claiming athletic former New Jersey small forward Travis Outlaw on amnesty waivers a week before the season was to start.

Outlaw figures to fortify a small forward position already boasting John Salmons, Francisco Garcia and Donte Greene.

The Lakers have won nine of 10 and 12 of their last 14 meetings with the Kings.