Lakers' record-setting defense silences Hornets


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Rick Fox, who has often worn his shaggy locks
in a pony tail, decided it was time to change his appearance.

The 11-year veteran changed his game as well.

Playing for the first time since shaving his head, Fox snapped an 11-game streak of scoring in single digits with 12 points Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Lakers overwhelmed the Charlotte Hornets 107-66.

Charlotte's point total was the lowest scored by an opponent of the Lakers since the advent of the 24-second clock in 1954 -- one point under Utah's total against them on Feb. 4, 2000.

"The kind of effort we gave tonight was all about defense," said Fox, who wore a gash above his left ear -- courtesy of Charlotte's Jamaal Magloire. "We jumped on them quickly, gave one of the best efforts in Lakers history in holding them to 66 points."

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 23 points. Shaquille O'Neal, who
said before the game it's likely he'll undergo surgery on his
ailing arthritic right big toe after the season, had nine points
and 10 rebounds in only 26 minutes.

Fox said he had been thinking about the new look for some time. He said his wife, actress Vanessa Williams, had never seen him completely bald.

"Celebrity couples in Hollywood have broken up for less," he said. "For me personally, it signifies the time of year it is right now. I look at myself in the mirror, this isn't a very friendly look. It has a menacing appeal."

That's not something that can be said about playing in the NBA
with a pony tail.

Fox said Magloire accidentally scratched him in a scramble for a rebound.

"His finger nails were a little too long," Fox said.

O'Neal, who left the Lakers' most lopsided win of the season for good with 4:22 left in the third period after picking up his fourth foul, had led the Lakers in scoring in each of their previous nine games, averaging 32.6 points.

O'Neal, who didn't speak with reporters afterward, said
beforehand there was at least an 80 percent chance he would undergo
surgery after the season. An operation could cause him to miss the
start of next season.

The Lakers (44-18) moved within one game of the Pacific
Division-leading Sacramento Kings, whose 45-17 record is the best in the NBA.

David Wesley scored 15 points, Jamal Mashburn had 13 and former
Laker Elden Campbell had 13 rebounds for the Hornets, who absorbed their most one-sided loss and scored their fewest points in a game this season.

Baron Davis, who scored 37 points when the teams met in Charlotte last month -- most by an opponent of the Lakers this season -- was held to four points, making only 1 of 10 shots. He was averaging 19.1 points.

"I think that we were tired," Davis said. "They beat us to the ball every possession."

The Hornets (30-33) lost for the seventh time in 10 games and
had their lead cut to a half-game over Miami in the race for the
eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth.

"You're playing a quality team like the Lakers, you have to bring your `A' game," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "We probably had a `D' game tonight."

A 3-pointer by Hunter and a basket by Bryant to start the third
quarter put the Lakers on top 54-33.

P.J. Brown scored six points during an 11-3 run to make it
57-44, but the Lakers clinched the victory by outscoring the
Hornets 17-10 to finish the third period and 9-0 to start the
fourth for an 83-54 lead.

Like O'Neal, Bryant sat out the final period, when the Lakers
outscored the Hornets 33-12.

The Lakers, who missed their first six shots, went ahead for
good by scoring 12 straight points for a 16-6 lead.

It was 26-16 entering the second quarter, and 49-33 at halftime.
Charlotte's 33 points was the lowest first-half total by an
opponent of the Lakers this season, and tied the lowest total by
the Hornets in either half.

Game notes
O'Neal scored a season-low eight points in a game at
Seattle on Nov. 30, when he played only 10 minutes before being
ejected. ... O'Neal, who went 3-for-9 from the floor, attempted 21
shots in each of the Lakers' previous five games. ... The Hornets,
who have an 18-15 road record _ best in the Eastern Conference _
are one of two NBA teams with better records on the road than at
home, where they're 12-18. The other is Miami, 13-16 at home and
16-17 on the road. ... The Lakers have beaten the Hornets seven
straight times, including a 96-94 decision in Charlotte on Feb. 22
when Bryant made an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer. ... Davis, who
grew up in the Los Angeles area and played at UCLA for two seasons
before turning pro, purchased more than 50 tickets for friends and