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Lakers send Pistons to 12th loss in last 14

1/11/2002

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Sometimes three quarters are enough
for the Los Angeles Lakers to dominate.

Shaquille O'Neal scored 28 points, and Kobe Bryant had 20 -- then
both sat out the entire fourth period -- as Los Angeles beat the
Detroit Pistons 121-92 Tuesday night for its fifth straight
victory.

"We just did what we're supposed to do," O'Neal said. "When
we play like that, there aren't too many teams that can play with
us."

The two-time defending champions, who are an NBA-best 25-6,
scored from essentially every spot on the floor. The Lakers led by
30 after three quarters and by as many as 35, allowing them the
luxury of using reserves for the final 15 minutes.

Los Angeles outscored Detroit 44-28 in the lane and 19-4 on fast
breaks and went 9-of-15 on 3-pointers and 20-of-25 on free throws.

"We're not playing the scoreboard, or necessarily our
opponents," Bryant said. "We're playing ourselves."

Jerry Stackhouse led the Pistons with 27 points. Detroit (16-17)
has lost 11 of 13 games to fall below .500 for the first time since
opening night.

"It's time for me to look hard at the situation and figure
exactly where we are," said Rick Carlisle, Detroit's first-year
coach. "We started out as a tough-minded team."

O'Neal played 25 minutes in his third game after missing the
previous five with an arthritic right toe. He went 11-of-17 from
the field, 6-of-10 on free throws, had 10 rebounds and even made
three first-quarter assists.

"The general's back," O'Neal said.

Stackhouse agreed.

"Shaq got going and there literally was nothing we could do,"
Stackhouse said. "It was men among boys out there."

O'Neal soaked his feet in buckets of ice after the game and said
his injured toe felt good.

"With the return of Shaquille, we're playing the kind of ball
we were playing earlier," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

Robert Horry, who missed his only shot in 12 minutes, was the
only Los Angeles player not to score. Samaki Walker, Derek Fisher
and Mitch Richmond scored 11 points each. Five others scored at
least six.

After warming up with a 26-23 lead in the first quarter, the
Lakers turned the game into a rout with 34 points in the second
quarter and 39 in the third.

The Pistons, like most teams, couldn't do much about it.

Jackson showed some heart by clearing his bench late in the
third quarter. O'Neal left the game with 3:40 left in the period,
and Bryant departed 23 seconds later -- but it didn't matter.

In the final 34 seconds of the third quarter, reserve Mark
Madsen made a hook shot, Detroit's Zeljko Rebraca missed a layup,
and Derek Fisher closed the period with a jumper that gave Los
Angeles a 99-69 lead.

By late in the fourth quarter, not much more than 1,000 fans
were left from the original sellout crowd of 22,076.

"There wasn't much we could do to keep it interesting after the
third quarter," Jackson said.

Los Angeles reached a season high in points. The Pistons hadn't
lost by such a large margin or allowed so many points this season.

"There isn't anything you can say," Detroit's Ben Wallace
said.

Game notes
Detroit G Dana Barros left the game early in the second
quarter with a pulled hamstring. He missed six games this season
with the same injury. ... The Lakers won their previous four by an
average of 19.2 points. ... Los Angeles lost two of the five games
O'Neal missed, including a loss to Toronto, the lone Eastern
Conference team to beat the Lakers. ... Three of Los Angeles' six
losses are on the second nights of back-to-backs. It plays at
Indiana on Wednesday. ... The Lakers have won seven straight
against Detroit.