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Fired-up Kobe makes triple trouble for Clippers

11/2/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant had plenty of motivation on the way to his fourth career triple-double.

"My motivation was, one, to win the game. You never want to drop three straight,'' Bryant said after getting 33 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and 12 assists Friday night in a 108-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

He only alluded to the second part of his motivation, an ESPN.com report in which assistant coach Tex Winter was quoted as calling Bryant "out of control, selfish, stubborn and uncoachable'' when Shaquille O'Neal is sidelined. The comments purportedly came after Bryant went 9-of-29 in an opening night loss to San Antonio.

"I'm not going to get into the guy's name. I don't even think
it's worth me repeating the guy's name,'' Bryant said, referring to
the writer of the article, Charley Rosen. "But you guys know the story.

"This is the style of basketball that I want to play all season long -- to get my teammates involved and play unselfish basketball.''

Teammate Brian Shaw said he didn't think Bryant wasn't trying to
prove anything.

"I just think he was playing the same game that he's been playing. Contrary to what everybody else has been saying, he's been really looking to set his teammates up more than ever before,'' Shaw said.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he hadn't seen the story, but described the relationship between Winter, the triangle offense guru, and Bryant as one that "bounces along at times. Tex is very outspoken in what he thinks, speaking as the voice of basketball reason, as far as he sees it.''

Jackson said he sometimes tells Winter, "'You might not want to say anything to these guys right now because they're coming back pretty fired up about what's happened on the court.' But he's been really supportive, in fact.

"In the year in which Kobe and I had a real struggle in certain situations regarding how to be a team player and a team leader through unselfish play, Tex was always his strongest defender. I think Kobe knows that, and he's got a great relationship with him because of it.''

Bryant took charge while O'Neal again watched in street clothes as the three-time defending NBA champions won for the first time in three games this season, all played without the recuperating O'Neal and the suspended Rick Fox.

Devean George, starting in Fox's spot, had 13 points and Samaki Walker, filling in for O'Neal at center, had 11 points and nine rebounds.

Andre Miller had 22 points and 11 assists for the Clippers, off to an 0-2 start after losing their season opener to Cleveland two nights earlier. Elton Brand and Corey Maggette added 19 points each.

Brand, who missed all of training camp as he recuperated from arthroscopic knee surgery, said an 0-2 start "is not the end of the world. We have seven or eight guys that didn't play a lick in the preseason.''

"We're going to make a run similar to last year. We were 0-3 and wound up vying for a playoff spot,'' Brand said.

The Lakers led by as many as 23 points in the second quarter,
but the Clippers came back to narrow the gap to 74-67 with four
minutes left in the third quarter before the Lakers began to pull
away again. They were ahead 85-73 heading into the fourth quarter
and the Clippers got no closer than nine points afterward.

O'Neal, who had surgery in September on his arthritic right big toe, went through a light scrimmage for about five minutes on Thursday but a date hasn't been set for his return to the lineup.

Fox is midway through a six-game suspension for fighting with Sacramento's Doug Christie during the final preseason game.

Game notes
The previous rebound high for Bryant, who's beginning his
seventh NBA season, was 14. His last triple-double was 23 points,
11 rebounds and 15 assists against Washington last Feb. 12. ... The
Lakers have started 0-3 just three times, in 1957, 1960 and 1979 _
the season before they got Magic Johnson. ... The Lakers are 116-38
all-time against the Clippers, who moved to Los Angeles in 1984
from San Diego. ... Although no date has been set for O'Neal's
return, if he has no setbacks in his recovery, Nov. 12 at home
against Atlanta would seem a likely time. The Lakers have three
days off before that game after playing a stretch of five games in
eight days.