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Shaq, Kobe put and end to Lakers' losing

2/21/2002

CLEVELAND (AP) -- With Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal shouldering the load, the Los Angeles Lakers rediscovered what it
was like to win.

Bryant scored 32 points and O'Neal, playing only his second game in 18 days, added 31 as the Lakers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-97 Thursday night.

"We're getting it back together, slowly but surely," O'Neal said. "Kobe did his thing and I did my thing."

The Lakers had lost their previous three games -- the first time that had happened to a team coached by Phil Jackson since the 1994-95 season.

Bryant was 13-of-24 from the field and O'Neal was 13-of-25.
Bryant added six rebounds and six assists. O'Neal, who missed five
games with a sore big toe, hit 5 of 6 free throws and also had four
rebounds and two assists.

"We let a couple of games slip away and so far nobody else has
had any slippage," O'Neal said. "We've still got 20-some games
left. We're not used to playing at a high level yet. Once we get at
a high level, there'll be no stopping us."

The Lakers won despite being outrebounded 51-30 and having just
Bryant and O'Neal score in double figures.

"That was just one of those nights," Bryant said. "It was one of those nights, but we still managed to win. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take an ugly win."

Lamond Murray scored 23 points, Ricky Davis 19 and Andre Miller had 13 points and 15 assists for the Cavaliers, who had won four of their previous five games. Miller also had a season-high nine
turnovers while the Lakers totalled just five.

"We learned that you can't mistakes if you want to beat a good team," Miller said. "I was lazy with the ball and they turned it into points."

The Lakers never trailed after taking a 12-11 lead midway
through the first quarter. Cleveland pulled within a point at 61-60
in the third quarter but O'Neal followed with a dunk. The Cavaliers
narrowed it to 69-68 moments later before Derek Fisher hit a 3-pointer.

"Every time we got close, they hit a big 3," Cavaliers coach John Lucas said. "They got contributions from a lot of people."

Bryant gave Los Angeles an 83-78 lead heading into the fourth quarter, hitting a 15-foot fadeaway from the right baseline over Ricky Davis.

The Cavaliers never got closer than six points after the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

With the Lakers leading 100-93 with just over 2 minutes to go, Miller drove the lane and faked twice before putting up a shot that O'Neal blocked into the stands.

Bryant then scored on a full-court drive.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 11 points and Chris Mihm had 10 for Cleveland.

"That's just a typical first game of a road trip after a long flight," the Lakers' Robert Horry said.

Game notes
Cleveland's Miller came in leading the NBA with 11 assists a game and surpassed that early in the third quarter. ... The Lakers have won five straight meetings with the Cavaliers. ... The
game was a sellout (20,562), the Cavs' third of the year -- the other two coming against Michael Jordan and the Wizards. ... Lucas was hit with a technical foul for protesting when Bryant was given a basket seconds after he was fouled.