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O'Neal, Bryant lead way as Lakers win back-to-back

12/9/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers parlayed the momentum from their
amazing comeback against Dallas into a 110-101 victory over the Utah
Jazz and put themselves into position to win three consecutive
games for the first time this season.

Shaquille O'Neal had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Kobe Bryant
added 25 points and 14 assists as the Lakers posted consecutive
victories for the first time in two weeks Sunday night.

''We're back to playing Lakers' style of basketball which is
high-intensity defense, trying to get some easy opportunities, and
because of that our rhythm is coming back and the game is more
fun,'' Bryant said. ''Right now it's just important to establish a
momentum, see if we can put together a nice little stretch.''

Bryant showed no ill effects from the pulled groin he sustained
Friday against the Mavericks when he scored 21 points in the final
12 minutes.

He punctuated the victory Sunday with a driving dunk with four
seconds left.

''My groin was pretty stiff when I went back in there for the
last time. I couldn't really put it into fourth, fifth gear,''
Bryant said. ''Tonight was a game I was really worried about. It
seemed I was able to play pretty well. My range of motion was
pretty good.''

The Lakers' 27-point fourth-quarter rally was the second-biggest
in NBA history. They've now won back-to-back games for just the
third time this season. They'll go for three in a row Tuesday at
Golden State.

O'Neal in particular was on his game early, scoring 16 points in
the first quarter. It was one of his most productive outings since
returning from foot surgery Nov. 22.

''It looks like he's getting himself in game shape. When you
have a rest day between games it helps,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson
said. ''Shaq was good and Kobe, at times, was terrific.''

Andrei Kirilenko scored a career-high 30 points and made all 10
of his free throws. Matt Harpring added 24 points for Utah, which had won nine of its previous 10 games.

''We couldn't have beat anyone the way we played,'' Utah coach
Jerry Sloan said. ''I thought we played unfairly for anyone who had
to pay the money to come see us play.''

Karl Malone was held to 11 points on 3-for-16 shooting, four days
after getting 29 points and 15 rebounds in a 93-85 victory over the
Lakers in Salt Lake City. John Stockton had 13 points and 10
assists.

''It was a terrible start and then the second half we worked our
way back into it and we just couldn't seem to ignite any real
strong fires,'' Stockton said. ''They had a lead and they just
played it out.''

Utah center Greg Ostertag was ejected two minutes into the game
for arguing a non-call after he and O'Neal got tied up under the
basket. He left the court kicking and screaming.

''I thought Greg got hammered on the shot and there was no call
on it. Obviously, he was upset,'' said Sloan, who was ejected six
minutes later for chirping at referee Derrick Stafford, who had
tossed Ostertag.

''I sat there and got a little more upset when I thought about
it. A lot of times the team is at a disadvantage because of me
because I fight harder than I should. I feel like there is a
responsibility. I get upset. I was very upset tonight,'' Sloan
said.

The Lakers were vastly better than last Wednesday in Utah. In
that game, they shot 35.7 percent, had 16 turnovers and scored just
13 points in the third quarter.

This time, they shot 50 percent, had 21 turnovers and maintained
a comfortable double-digit lead for much of the second half.

''I liked our aggressive behavior. We got into this game
immediately,'' Jackson said.

For just the second game this season, the Lakers had all of
their top eight players available. Each of them saw at least 20
minutes of action, with Jackson going no more than three-deep on
his bench.

''Phil is really starting to tighten up the rotation, go with
guys that can execute the game plan and know exactly what he wants
out there, so our rhythm is going to be a little bit better,''
Bryant said.

Game notes
Lakers forward-center Samaki Walker saw his first extensive playing
time since returning Friday from a sore back. He had four points
and six rebounds in 20 minutes. ... The season series is tied 1-1;
the Lakers won it 3-1 last season. ... The last time Ostertag got
ejected he kicked the ball into the stands on his way out Feb.
27, 2000, against Portland.