Lakers roar back to beat Wizards

Bryant triple double leads rally, 103-94

Pro Basketball

February 13, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

LOS ANGELES - In a city that adores celebrities, last night's Washington Wizards-Los Angeles Lakers game was supposedly a showdown between Michael Jordan and the man many feel most resembles him in marquee value and talent, Kobe Bryant.

Bryant took his time joining the battle, but once he did, he made his presence felt, with a triple double that paced the Lakers to a 103-94 comeback win over the Wizards.

Bryant, who was solidly booed in his hometown, Philadelphia, Sunday in winning All-Star Game Most Valuable Player honors, had just five points in the first half, but finished with 23 points, as well as 11 rebounds and a career-high 15 assists for the third triple double of his career.

Jordan, meanwhile, had 22 points, but shot only 8-for-20 for the game, albeit with five rebounds and six assists. The 38-year-old Jordan, in his third NBA stint, was left to marvel at the brilliance of Bryant, who took over in the decisive third quarter.

"He opened the court," said Jordan. "He basically created everything and we could not contain his activity from his penetration to getting the ball to the right people."

The Lakers, playing for a second straight game without center Shaquille O'Neal, who is on the injured list with an arthritic right big toe, erased a 20-point second half deficit, with a 42-point third quarter, and a withering 15-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters, taking Los Angeles from three points down to a 12-point lead.

The two-time defending champions used a pair of flagrant fouls early in the third to serve as a kind of call to arms, as they muscled the Wizards (26-22) around in the second half.

"It was fun coming back from 20-down," said Bryant. "The first half was kind of embarrassing and we had to come out fighting."

Said Washington coach Doug Collins: "The game got really rough. They got us on our heels. I thought the physical nature that they played at really changed the game. We never could get back in sync."

Indeed, Washington guard Richard Hamilton, who battled Bryant when both attended high school in Pennsylvania, seemed most affected by the Lakers' intensity. He appeared to be up for going head-to-head with the Lakers phenom, as he went 6-for-10 in the first half for 13 points.

However, Hamilton scored just four in the second half, and looked rattled, committing four of his five fouls in the half.

"Kobe really got into his body and did a great job of fighting off screens," said Collins. "Just by physical strength, Rip wasn't able to get where he wanted to go."

Los Angeles (34-13) hit 10 three-point shots, nine in the second half, as it snapped Washington's five-game winning streak.

Trailing by 13 at the half, the Lakers got chippy early in the third quarter as Mark Madsen and Bryant picked up flagrant fouls on consecutive possessions. In all, Los Angeles was whistled for four fouls in 41 seconds and the Wizards (26-22) converted on six foul shots. When Hamilton hit a baseline jumper with 7:49 to go in the period, Washington had an improbable 63-43 lead.

But the Lakers seemed charged by the flagrant fouls, with an immediate 8-0 burst, capped by a Lindsey Hunter three-pointer. From there, the Lakers blew things open with a 15-0 run to close the third period and begin the fourth, taking an 86-74 lead, and essentially ending the contest, as Los Angeles erased its biggest deficit of the season.

"Tempers rose a little bit," said Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson, who coached Jordan to six titles when the two were in Chicago with the Bulls. "There were some flagrant fouls and it kind of changed the pace of the game, but it gave us an opportunity to exert ourselves and get rid of our demons."

NOTE: The Wizards activated forward Christian Laettner from the injured list before last night's game, where he had been since Jan. 24 with a thigh contusion. The team placed rookie forward Kwame Brown on the injured list with a hamstring ailment.

FG FT Reb

Washington Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Jordan 41 8-20 6-8 0-5 6 1 22

Jones 35 5-8 6-7 1-8 2 3 17

White 25 2-2 2-2 3-7 0 2 6

RHamilton 36 7-17 3-4 0-2 6 5 17

Whitney 25 3-9 2-2 0-1 3 0 11

Lue 16 2-6 0-0 0-2 2 2 5

Haywood 18 1-2 2-2 1-4 0 4 4

Nesby 26 4-9 2-2 2-4 1 1 10

Alexander 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Laettner 9 1-3 0-0 1-3 0 0 2

Davis 8 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Totals 240 33-77 23-27 8-37 20 18 94

Percentages: FG .429, FT .852. 3-Point Goals: 5-16, .312 (Whitney 3-8, Jones 1-1, Lue 1-3, Davis 0-1, R.Hamilton 0-1, Nesby 0-2). Team Rebounds: 11. Blocked Shots: 3 (White, Haywood, Jordan). Turnovers: 9 (Jordan 4, Haywood 2, Whitney, Lue, Laettner). Steals: 3 (Jordan 2, White). Technical Fouls: None. Flagrant fouls: Nesby, 4:49 third.

L.A. Lakers Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Fox 29 4-9 0-0 1-3 2 5 10

Madsen 22 2-3 1-2 1-3 3 1 5

Walker 32 4-4 1-2 2-5 1 1 9

Bryant 43 9-20 5-9 1-11 15 3 23

Fisher 25 7-16 0-0 0-2 1 1 16

Medvedenko 15 2-8 0-0 4-7 1 4 4

Horry 26 2-5 0-0 4-6 1 0 6

George 14 3-5 0-1 1-3 2 4 7

Hunter 12 6-10 0-0 1-3 1 0 13

Richmond 9 2-5 0-0 0-1 0 2 4

Shaw 13 2-4 0-0 0-0 2 0 6

Totals 240 43-89 7-14 15-44 29 21 103

Percentages: FG .483, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 10-22, .455 (Horry 2-3, Fox 2-4, Shaw 2-4, Fisher 2-6, George 1-2, Hunter 1-2, Bryant 0-1). Team Rebounds: 9. Blocked Shots: 3 (Bryant, Walker, Medvedenko). Turnovers: 7 (Bryant 2, Fox 2, Walker, Medvedenko, Richmond). Steals: 4 (Horry, Bryant, Fisher, Hunter). Technical Fouls: defensive three second, 2:30 second; defensive three second, 10:13 fourth. Flagrant fouls: Madsen, 9:43 third; Bryant, 9:11 third.

Washington 25 23 26 20 - 94

L.A. Lakers 16 19 42 26 - 103

A-18,997 (18,997). T-2:16. Officials-Ted Bernhardt, Ron Olesiak, Rodney Mott.

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Sacramento Kings

Site: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, Calif.

When: Tomorrow, 10 p.m.

TV/Radio: CSN/WTEM (980 AM)

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