LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Brad Miller was booed during introductions
and every time he touched the ball Wednesday night.
He was wearing the smile of a winner afterward.
Marcus Fizer scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, and Miller had 12 points and nine rebounds as the lowly Chicago Bulls
beat the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers 97-89 for the second time this season.
Shaquille O'Neal sat out the Lakers' final game before the
All-Star break to rest his aching feet, and was greatly missed.
Kobe Bryant scored 38 points and Slava Medvedenko added 11 for
the Lakers, who had nobody else in double figures. Samaki Walker had eight points and a season-high 14 rebounds before fouling out
with 1:14 to play.
It was the first game between the teams since O'Neal and
Chicago's Miller and Charles Oakley were suspended for their roles
in a fight during a Jan. 12 game at the United Center won by Bulls 106-104 in overtime.
"No, not at all," Miller said when asked if the boos from the Staples Center crowd of 18,997 bothered him. "It just gets you fired up. It's nice to get a sweep of the Lakers. It shows any team can beat another team on a given night. Tonight was that given night.
"Nobody seemed like they were ready to play. (Mark) Madsen came in with a lot of energy, and Kobe played hard. Everybody else seemed lackadaisical, like they were looking forward to the break. We came out and played hard."
The Bulls (11-36) have the NBA's worst record, but beat the Lakers twice in as many games this season -- the only team they've beaten more than once. Their 3-22 road record is also the league's worst.
"We were a little flat-footed," Bryant said. "Shots that we normally make we didn't make."
When asked if he was embarrassed about getting swept by the Bulls, Bryant replied: "It's not embarrassing, it's very upsetting."
Bryant acknowledged the Lakers were lackadaisical.
"That's what it looked like," he said. "I don't think we matched their intensity."
The Lakers never led after the Bulls scored the final six points
of the second quarter for a 43-40 halftime lead.
Bryant's layin with 7½ minutes to play tied the game at 72, but
baskets by Fizer and Trenton Hassell, two free throws by Miller and
a three-point play by Fizer put the Bulls on top 81-72 with 5:24
The Lakers scored the next eight points -- four by Walker -- to
draw within one point, but that's as close as they would get.
A layup by Hassell with 37.3 seconds to go put the Bulls on top
85-82, and Ron Artest made a free throw 10 seconds later.
Bryant then threw up an air ball on a 3-point attempt, and the Lakers (33-13) were on their way to another loss to an NBA doormat.
The Lakers have lost to the Bulls twice and Memphis, Miami, Golden State and Denver once since Dec. 21.
"I knew it was going to be a very difficult game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They've got some big, athletic kids out there, bigger than ours and more athletic than ours."
Not if O'Neal is playing, but he wasn't in this game.
"It was like pulling teeth out there to execute during the game," Jackson said. "I was just frustrated with our offensive display."
Chicago's Kevin Ollie matched his career high with 15 points and went 9-for-10 from the foul line in the final 19 seconds.
O'Neal has been in pain for several weeks from an arthritic right big toe and a left little toe recovering from offseason surgery.
Eddie Robinson's three-point play with 4:12 left in the third
quarter gave the Bulls a 62-56 lead.
Bryant, who had 16 of his team's 24 points in the period, made
three straight baskets to tie it, giving him 13 straight Los
The Bulls led 66-64 entering the fourth quarter.
There was no evidence of any bad blood between the teams.
... Oakley also missed the game, sitting out because of a sore
right wrist -- the third straight game he's missed. ... The Bulls
have a 56-205 record since Jackson stepped down following the
1997-98 season. ... The Lakers are 28-9 with O'Neal and 5-4 without
him. ... Bulls rookie Tyson Chandler, who had eight points and nine
rebounds, graduated from Dominguez High in nearby Compton last
year. ... The Lakers committed 20 turnovers, including a season-high
eight by Bryant.