<
>
SeattleSuperSonicsSEA
23-31, 11-19 Away
101
Final
1234T
SEA28292222101
LAL24382321106
106
30-25, 19-10 Home

Lakers move into seventh place in Western Conference

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Now that he's tied MJ, Kobe Bryant can set
his sights on Wilt.

Bryant scored 41 points Sunday night to make it nine straight
games in which he's reached 40 as the Los Angeles Lakers beat
Seattle 106-101 despite a near triple-double by Ray Allen in his
first game with the SuperSonics.

Bryant equaled Michael Jordan's best streak of scoring at least
40 points, accomplished in the 1986-87 season.

The only player with longer streaks of 40 or more is Wilt
Chamberlain. The NBA's fourth-leading career scorer did so in 14
consecutive games twice in the 1961-62 season and in 10 straight
the following season.

While Bryant's achievement is remarkable, his performance down
the stretch against the Sonics wasn't pretty.

After making two foul shots with 4:32 remaining to give him 39
points and the Lakers a 101-90 lead, Bryant missed six shots --
several of them forced -- before making two more free throws with
23.6 seconds left.

"Well, I wasn't sure if Kobe was going to chase that 40 points
so bad that he was going to cut our chances out there at the end of
the game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It got a little
tenuous."

While Bryant was misfiring, the Sonics moved within five points
three times. But that was as close as they would get.

"It's all about winning games," said Shaquille O'Neal, who had
27 points and all but two of his 17 rebounds in the second half.
"When you win, nothing's a problem."

When asked whether Bryant was forcing shots toward the end,
O'Neal replied: "I wasn't looking."

And then he smiled.

"The crowd was really into it. The opposition was going to do
everything in their power to stop me from getting it," Bryant
said. "I took us out of our system, but that's such a tough
challenge to back down from. I had to apologize to my teammates."

Bryant shot 13-of-34 including 1-of-6 from 3-point range and
made 14 of 16 free throws while playing 42 minutes.

He has scored at least 35 points in 13 consecutive games. Again,
Chamberlain is the only player ahead of him in that department,
having accomplished that feat in 33, 23 and 20 straight games.

Allen defended Bryant's late-game shooting barrage.

"If it were me, I would have done the same thing," Allen said.
"That's something that when he's old and gray, he won't be able to
do any of this anymore, so he's got to take advantage of it. So
more power to him."

Devean George had 14 points for the Lakers, who have won four
straight games and 11 of 13. Their latest victory moved them a
season-high five games over .500 and past Phoenix into seventh
place in the Western Conference.

Allen had 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, leaving him
one assist shy of his second career triple-double.

His rebounding total equaled a career high and his assist total
tied a season high.

The Sonics acquired Allen and two others for Gary Payton and
Desmond Mason on Thursday.

"I'm like a rookie all over again," Allen said. "I'm excited
about this team. We didn't win the game, but we put some good
basketball out there on the floor. A lot of guys played well for
us."

Allen didn't know he was one assist shy of a triple-double until
the game was over. He got his ninth assist with 7:02 remaining.

"I wish somebody would have told me that and yelled to me on
the floor," he said. "I would have done everything I could to
pass it."

Rashard Lewis had 28 points and eight rebounds and Peja Drobnjak
added 16 points for the Sonics, who lost for the eighth time in 11
games.

Game notes
Jackson is scheduled to have a kidney stone removed Monday.
He hopes to be on the bench Tuesday night when the Lakers face the
Clippers and Bryant attempts to make it 10 straight games of 40 or
more points. ... Lakers F Samaki Walker missed his second game
because of a sprained right ankle. ... The game was also the first
in a Seattle uniform for Kevin Ollie, acquired in the Allen deal,
and Elden Campbell, who came to the Sonics from New Orleans for
Kenny Anderson. Ollie had two points in 13 minutes and Campbell had
four points in 10 minutes. ... The Lakers and Sonics meet again
Friday night in Seattle. ... Lakers rookie Kareem Rush had a
career-high seven assists in 15 minutes. ... The Lakers' franchise
record for 40-point games is 23 set by Elgin Baylor in the 1962-63
season. Bryant has done it 17 times this season.