LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Slump? What slump? The Los Angeles Lakers put
a two-game losing streak behind them with authority Sunday night.
"The Lakers beat the living hell out of us, so if they were in
a slump, they seem to be out of it," Boston coach Jim O'Brien said
after Los Angeles handed the Celtics a 105-82 setback, their most
lopsided loss this season.
Shaquille O'Neal had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and six of his
teammates scored in double figures as the Lakers raised their
NBA-best record to 21-7.
"We had a stellar second half," Lakers coach Phil Jackson
said. "Shaq was our focal point, obviously. We were looking to
exploit the fact that they like to front the post.
"I thought our defense was better. We got some turnovers. It
was a nice breakout game for us."
Slava Medvedenko had 10 points and nine rebounds and Horace
Grant had a season-high 10 points and seven rebounds for Los
Angeles, which outrebounded Boston 55-35.
"We had a little bit more movement -- a little bit more active
on defense," O'Neal said when asked the difference between this
game and the previous six four of which were losses.
"This gets us back on track," O'Neal said. "Now, we just have
to be consistent. It's all about us."
Following a 10-game winning streak, the Lakers allowed their
last six opponents to average 104.7 points per game.
They held the Celtics to 82, only 33 in the second half.
"I think it was a combination of them shooting poorly and us
executing defensively," Bryant said. "We played active defense."
"We were playing well coming into this game, and we thought
this was a game we could get," Baker said. "A big part of our
loss was because of our turnovers. We didn't take care of the ball.
It's been a long time we were this sloppy with turnovers."
The Celtics committed 23 turnovers while the Lakers committed
The Lakers played their third game without Karl Malone, who
sprained a ligament in his right knee Dec. 21 against Phoenix. His
return is uncertain, but he hasn't been placed on the injured list.
Lakers spokesman John Black said team physician Dr. Steve
Lombardo examined Malone and said the 40-year-old forward is making
progress and will continue to be monitored for the rest of the
The goal for Malone is to practice Wednesday if he continues to
improve. The Lakers play their next game Friday night at Seattle.
O'Neal scored the first seven points of the third quarter to
give the Lakers a 64-49 lead. The Celtics drew within eight points
before the Lakers outscored them 9-2 to finish the period, making
Fisher then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter
to give the Lakers a 20-point lead, and a 3-pointer by Fisher with
six minutes left made it 93-69.
Each team had 12 turnovers in a sloppy first half which ended
with the Lakers leading 57-49 thanks to a 6-1 run at the end of the
The Lakers scored the game's first seven points before seven
points by Baker triggered a 10-2 run that gave the Celtics their
The Lakers outscored Boston 19-5 for a 28-15 lead, but the
Celtics responded with a 13-2 spurt to move within two points early
in the second quarter.
The Lakers shot 43.0 percent and the Celtics 41.7 percent.
... With a series lead of 93-75, the Celtics are the only franchise
with a winning record against the Lakers. ... After playing only 11
games in December, the Lakers play 15 in both January and February.
... The Celtics play Monday night at Golden State and Wednesday at
home against New Orleans, giving them 17 games in December. They
play 16 games in January and 12 in February. ... Malone took a seat
on the bench late in the first quarter and received an ovation from
the fans. He stayed home Christmas night when the Lakers lost to
Houston 99-87. ... O'Neal drew a technical foul late in the second
quarter for throwing an elbow at Boston's Michael Stewart. ...
O'Neal surpassed the 21,000-point mark in his career with a basket
early in the third quarter. ... By winning, the Lakers avoided
their first three-game losing streak since last December.