Jackson lets reserves figure it out, Lakers survive

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson decided
to give his starters some rest, and nothing was going to change his

The decision almost blew up in his face.

The reserves blew all but three points of a 17-point
fourth-quarter lead Tuesday night before Brian Shaw scored four of
his 13 in the last 33 seconds as the Lakers held off the
short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers 121-116.

"We were either going to win or get talked about if we lose,
and it's going to be a horrible trip to Phoenix," said Shaw,
referring to the flight the Lakers took following the game for a
date with the Suns on Wednesday night.

Shaquille O'Neal had 19 points and eight rebounds despite
sitting out the last 16 minutes, and Rick Fox matched a season-high
with 18 points for the Lakers (50-20), who won the the 15th time in
19 games and remained one-half game behind Sacramento in the race
for the NBA's best record.

Kobe Bryant, the only Los Angeles starter to play in the fourth
quarter, had 17 points and seven rebounds before leaving the game
for good with 7:13 remaining and the Lakers leading 102-88.

The Cavaliers slowly chipped away before a basket by Ricky Davis
and a 3-pointer by Trajan Langdon cut the Los Angeles lead to
114-111 with 1:11 remaining.

But the Lakers scored the next five points -- four by Shaw -- to
clinch the victory.

"We couldn't stop them in the fourth quarter," Jackson said.
"I got accomplished what I wanted in that game. We've got a long

He referred to resting his starters, and said he never
considered putting them back in.

That was OK with Bryant.

"They put themselves in that hole, they had to get out," he
said of the reserves. "Brian hit some big shots."

And if the Lakers would have lost?

"It would have been nasty," Bryant said.

Davis scored 16 of his career-high 35 points and Langdon scored
14 of his 17 in the fourth quarter, when the Cavaliers outscored
the Lakers 42-30. Andre Miller had 21 points and nine assists
despite sitting out the final period.

The Cavaliers (25-46), who have lost four straight games and
eight of 11, had only eight players in uniform. Starters Lamond
Murray, Wesley Person and Zydrunas Ilgauskas all sat out the game
with back spasms, and Tyrone Hill, another starter, has a sinus

"I think if we played somebody other than the world champions,
we might have had a chance to win that game tonight, as
short-handed as we were," Cavaliers coach John Lucas said.

Lucas said he knew the Lakers weren't going to bring their
starters back in "because I wasn't playing Miller. I think we both
decided that it would be decided by those guys on the court."

Baskets by O'Neal, Fox and Bryant gave the Lakers a 66-51 lead,
but Cleveland scored seven straight points, five by Bryant Stith,
to draw within eight.

But the Lakers outscored the Cavaliers 25-16 for a 91-74 lead
entering the final period. Fox scored 15 points in the third

"We just could not get over the hump," Davis said. "We had
what it took to bring us back, but we just could not do it."

Baskets by Michael Doleac and Miller and two free throws by
Chris Mihm capped a 14-5 run and gave the Cavaliers a 40-38 lead,
their first of the game.

O'Neal had three baskets and Shaw made a 3-pointer at the buzzer
as the Lakers outscored the Cavaliers 14-2 in the last 2 minutes
of the first half for a 55-44 lead.

Game notes
Five of the Lakers' 20 losses have come to the teams with
the four worst records in the NBA -- Chicago (two) and Memphis,
Golden State and Denver (one each). They didn't allow the
Cavaliers, who have the fifth-poorest record, to continue that
trend. ... Hill isn't with the team on a three-game road trip that
concludes Thursday at Utah. "We have a problem right now, that's
all I'll say," Lucas said regarding his relationship with Hill.
... The Lakers have won nine straight home games and six straight
against the Cavaliers. ... The Cavaliers have a 1-12 record against
Pacific Division teams including 0-7 on the road. ... Derek Fisher
made his first start since Feb. 12 as a replacement for Lindsey
Hunter and scored 14 points. Fisher played 38 minutes and Hunter
only three in a 107-106 win at Sacramento on Sunday. ... The Lakers
haven't lost to a team with a losing record since Atlanta (29-41)
beat them 93-90 on Feb. 15.