34-32, 12-22 away
92
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46-18, 25-7 home
98

Bryant scores 33 as O'Neal, Olowokandi battle

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers were stuck on 66 for

six minutes. Once they got unstuck, it was all over for the Los

Angeles Clippers.

This double-team by the Clippers wasn't enough to stop the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal.
This double-team by the Clippers wasn't enough to stop the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal.
AP

Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his 33 points in the final 6:19 Friday

night as the two-time defending NBA champions rallied for a 98-92

victory over the rapidly-improving Clippers.

The Clippers scored 17 consecutive points at the end of the third

quarter and beginning of the fourth for a 76-66 lead -- holding the

Lakers scoreless for exactly six minutes.

The Lakers then outscored them 32-16 to finish the game.

"Our defense stepped up a little bit and we started scoring

some points," Bryant said.

The victory was the fourth in a row and 11th in 13 games for the

Lakers (46-18), who moved into a tie with the Sacramento Kings for

NBA's best record with 18 games remaining.

In losing for just the second time in nine games, the Clippers

(34-32) had their season-high four-game winning streak snapped and

dropped 1½ games behind Utah in the race for the final Western

Conference playoff berth.

When asked about the facing the Clippers in the opening round of

the playoffs -- a distinct possibility -- Bryant replied: "It'd be

fun. I think it would be great for the city. It would be a

challenge. They're getting there, they're a good team."

Shaquille O'Neal had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Rick Fox

added 12 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Lakers.

Quentin Richardson scored 22 points; Elton Brand had 18 points

and 12 rebounds -- his 11th consecutive double-double -- and Darius

Miles had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers.

O'Neal and Clippers center Michael Olowokandi, who had four

points and 14 rebounds, were ejected with 19 seconds remaining

after exchanging words and being hit with their second

double-technical of the game.

align=right>

height=1>

size=4>

face="Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif" size=4>He

said I was bowing him, or whatever, but he does

the same thing to everybody, he does the same

thing to me. He hits me in the back all the time

and I don't complain. I don't say anything. Then

he gets hit, he wants to cry and he wants to whine.

He needs to grow up.

face="Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"

size=4>

height=1>

face="Times,serif">The Clippers' Michael Olowokandi on his battles with the Lakers'

Shaquille O'Neal

O'Neal wasn't around to comment afterward, but Olowokandi had

plenty to say.

"Maybe he's used to people backing down from him, that's not

going to happen over here," Olowokandi said. "He said I was being

too aggressive trying to box him out, but how aggressive can you

get against a guy that weighs 360, 370 pounds?

"He said I was bowing him, or whatever, but he does the same

thing to everybody, he does the same thing to me. He hits me in the

back all the time and I don't complain. I don't say anything. Then

he gets hit, he wants to cry and he wants to whine. He needs to

grow up."

Lakers forward Robert Horry, who had 10 points, five rebounds

and five assists, said he believes Olowokandi, who shot only

1-for-10, was frustrated.

"That's all it is," Horry said. "Shaq wasn't really into it,

Olowokandi was the one who was woofin."

Bryant scored five consecutive points and Derek Fisher made a

3-pointer to cap a 21-4 run and give the Lakers an 87-80 lead with

3:10 remaining, and the Clippers weren't closer than five points

after that.

The Clippers had scored the final 12 points of the third quarter

and first five of the fourth for their 10-point lead.

"Their best player beat us, we can't let that happen,"

Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. "We've got to have someone else

step up out there. We've got to get to Kobe in those situations, he

lives for those situations."

Slava Medvedenko's jumper with 8:41 left ended the Clippers'

spurt.

After two free throws by Brand, the Lakers scored 11 consecutive points for a 79-78 lead with six minutes left, and they went ahead

for good shortly thereafter.

Fox scored seven points and O'Neal and Bryant had six each

during a 19-10 run to start the second half, giving the Lakers a

62-51 lead -- the largest of the game for either team.

It was 66-59 before the Clippers began their 17-0 run.

Medvedenko and Bryant scored five points each as the Lakers went

on a 13-4 run to finish the first quarter and start the second for

a 23-17 lead.

Miles and Bryant alternated baskets in the final 3½ minutes of

the second quarter, scoring three each until Bryant fed Fox for a

3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left.

But Miles made a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the

Lakers' lead to 43-41 at halftime. It was Miles' third 3-pointer in

17 attempts this season.

Game notes
O'Neal didn't start due an upset stomach, sitting out the

first 3:54 of play. ... The Lakers went 3-1 against the Clippers

this season and are 18-2 in the series in the last five years. ...

The Clippers signed Tremaine Fowlkes for the rest of the season.

Fowlkes, whose second 10-day contract expired Thursday, has started

the past nine games -- seven of them victories. ... The Lakers activated

Samaki Walker, who had started the team's first 50 games before

missing 13 due to a hyperextended right elbow. To make room, they

placed Jelani McCoy on the injured list with a bone bruise on his

right foot. ... The Clippers, over .500 this late in a season for

the first time in 10 years, haven't had a five-game winning streak

since early in the 1995-96 season.