LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant scored 42 points, and Shaquille
O'Neal had 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers beat
the Utah Jazz 99-87 Saturday night for their third straight
Karl Malone scored 26 points for the Jazz, who made only three
of their first 20 shots and went 11-for-38 in the first half after
entering with a league-leading .470 field goal percentage.
John Stockton had 14 points and six assists for Utah. The Jazz
are 2-1 under assistant coach Phil Johnson, who is guiding the team
during Jerry Sloan's seven-game suspension for shoving an official.
The Lakers broke the game open with a 9-0 run that extended
their lead to 91-77 after Malone's layup cut the margin to five
points. It was the ninth 40-point game this season for Bryant.
The victory put the three-time defending NBA champions within
three games of idle Houston for the eighth and final Western
Conference playoff spot.
Bryant, who set an NBA record for 3-pointers with 12 on Jan. 7
against Seattle, didn't attempt one against the Jazz until he beat
the third-quarter buzzer with a 38-footer over Scott Padgett's
outstretched arm for a 73-64 lead -- matching Malone's 14 points in
Padgett, making his first start this season in place of Matt
Harpring, gave the Jazz a 59-58 edge on a 3-pointer from the left
sideline that capped a 14-6 run with 4:05 left in the third. But
they never led again, as Rick Fox responded with a short running
jumper and a 3-pointer 47 seconds apart.
Harpring, Utah's second-leading scorer, missed his first game of
the season because of sore lower ribs. The third-year forward was
injured in the fourth quarter of Friday's win against Golden State,
when he charged into Bob Sura and fouled out.
X-rays taken Saturday were inconclusive, and new ones will be
taken Sunday in Salt Lake City on Harpring, who is doubtful for
Monday's game against Dallas. He missed only one game last season.
The Lakers, who scored a season-high 124 points in Friday's
victory at Sacramento, led the Jazz 45-35 at halftime. Bryant led
the way with 16 points, including 10 of 11 from the free throw
Utah trailed 23-14 after 12 minutes -- the lowest-scoring first
quarter by a Lakers opponent this season. The 39-year-old Malone,
who played 40 minutes Friday night against Golden State, missed his
first five shots before hitting a 17-footer with 26 seconds left in
the quarter. The 14-time All-Star will play in his 1,400th NBA game
A moment of silence was observed in memory of the seven
astronauts who died Saturday aboard the ill-fated Space Shuttle
Columbia, which was built in Southern California and made 13
landings at Edwards Air Force Base _ including the first mission in
April 1981. ... The Lakers (22-23) have to win their next two games
at Indiana and New York to avoid going into the All-Star break
under .500 for the first time since 1993-94, when Randy Pfund
coached the team. They finished that season 33-49 after losing
their last 10 games under interim coach Magic Johnson. ... The
worst record ever at the All-Star break by a team that ended up in
the finals was 17-28, by the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers. ... Utah's
Mark Jackson needs 76 assists to pass Magic Johnson for second
place on the career list behind Jazz Stockton. ... The Lakers did
not allow a 3-point basket for the second time this season. They
also blanked the Wizards on Nov. 8 at Washington. It was the sixth
game in which the Jazz did not score from behind the arc.