Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 2/24

Game 1: Sunday, February 24th
Game 2: Sunday, March 10th

Lakers 107

(38-16, 19-9 away)

Knicks 91

(20-34, 14-15 home)

    12:00 PM ET, February 24, 2002

    Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 32 24 26 25107
    NY 18 24 28 2191

    Top Performers

    LAL: S. O'Neal 30 Pts, 15 Reb, 5 Ast

    NY: K. Thomas 17 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

    Lakers' guns all blazing in runaway win

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal looked up at the scoreboard during a timeout, shook his head and laughed. It wasn't the score he found so amusing, it was the absurdity of the moment.

    Robert Horry

    Robert Horry scored 20 points and hit 4 of 7 3-point attempts.

    Fans were playing a game called "Know Your Knicks," trying to guess backup center Felton Spencer's favorite cartoon show -- Powerpuff Girls, Rugrats or Dragonball Z.

    "It was kind of dead in the building today," O'Neal said.

    Madison Square Garden was exactly as lifeless as O'Neal described Sunday as the Lakers overpowered the Knicks 107-91. O'Neal scored 30 points, Bryant added 27 and Robert Horry had 20 as the Lakers opened a big early lead and never led it drop below eight in winning their third in a row on the road.

    "There wasn't a whole lot of energy in this arena today. It's a surprise not to see that energetic crowd that gets them fired up," coach Phil Jackson said.

    Said Kobe Bryant: "It wasn't like it has been in the past when you can feel the electricity during the layup line."

    The loss was the fifth in a row for the last-place Knicks, who have won as many wins (10) in 35 games under Don Chaney as they did in 19 games under Jeff Van Gundy before he quit in late November.

    New York has lost three straight at home and nine of 11 overall during the franchise's worst season in 15 years.

    "It's difficult at this point to find any positives," Chaney said. "I don't want them to feel that because they didn't get blown out by 40, it's OK."

    Responding to Jackson's threat of no days off for the rest of the season unless they earn one, the Lakers remained unbeaten on their five-game road trip that concludes with stops in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

    O'Neal shot 12-for-22 from the field, Bryant was 10-of-18 and Horry was 8-for-13. Derek Fisher also had his accuracy working, adding 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

    The Lakers avoided another letdown against a last-place team, improving to 5-4 against the league's current cellar dwellers. They also lost a game to Miami when the Heat were in last place and are only 15-9 against sub-.500 teams.

    "That's been the one eyebrow-raiser for us as a basketball team is that we've gotten beat by a lot of teams that aren't in the race," Jackson said. "With Shaq in and out of the lineup for a third of our games up until last week, we were indecisive. But now we come back post All-Star break, our focus is better and we're going the right way."

    Latrell Sprewell had 22 and Allan Houston 21 for the Knicks, who fell behind by as many as many as 21 in the first half and never got closer than eight after that.

    Spencer played 10 scoreless minutes and committed four fouls. In a small consolation, the 19,763 paying customers left the building with the knowledge that he enjoys watching Dragonball Z every afternoon.

    The Lakers took charge right from the start, opening a double-digit lead in the first quarter. After Sprewell missed a breakaway layup, Lindsay Hunter hit a 3-pointer for a 17-10 lead. Hunter fed O'Neal for an alley-oop dunk that made it 24-14, and Bryant hit a jumper at the buzzer for a 32-18 lead after one quarter.

    There was no defender within 10 feet of Bryant when he hit a 3-pointer 3:54 before halftime for a 49-31 lead, and Rick Fox followed a missed jumper by Houston with a 3-pointer for a 52-31 lead.

    After the Knicks pulled within eight early in the third quarter, O'Neal took over and scored eight in a row for Los Angeles as Clarence Weatherspoon was firing up consecutive airballs for New York.

    Robert Horry hit a pair of 3-pointers for the Lakers late in the quarter to build the lead back up to 17, and Los Angeles led by 12 entering the fourth.

    New York made one last run, pulling within eight on a 3-pointer by Charlie Ward with 5:45 left. Fisher responded with a 3, Bryant came up with a steal, and Devean George converted a three-point play to make it 97-83, and the Lakers eventually went up by 18 with 2:32 left to avoid another loss to one of the NBA's worst teams.

    "We've kind of been playing with fire and getting burned by these types of teams," Bryant said.

    Game notes

    Marcus Camby, sidelined indefinitely with a torn hip muscle, attended a game for the first time since being injured Feb. 1. ... When O'Neal dunked over Mark Jackson, and Jackson tried to draw a charge, Lakers assistant Frank Hamblen yelled out: "Nice flop."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 107 91
    FGM-FGA 42-87 (.483) 37-85 (.435)
    3PM-3PA 9-19 (.474) 5-21 (.238)
    FTM-FTA 14-19 (.737) 12-18 (.667)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-48 16-42
    Assists 21 19
    Turnovers 11 15
    Steals 11 7
    Blocks 3 3
    Fast Break Points 4 13
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 20 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    New York
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 30
    Reb: 15
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Kurt Thomas Thomas
    Points: 17
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 3