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Magic bench the difference in win over L.A.

11/27/2002

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Tracy McGrady had teammates to back him up,
and Kobe Bryant didn't.

McGrady and Bryant each scored 38 points, but Orlando's Darrell
Armstrong scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half to lead a
strong effort by the Magic's reserves in a 112-102 victory over the
Lakers on Wednesday night.

The Lakers' bench was outscored 24-7, and Andrew DeClercq held
Shaquille O'Neal in check in the second half. All of it happened a
night after the Lakers' bench was outscored 36-8 in a loss to the
Miami Heat.

"I'm not happy with the way guys are coming off the bench and
their heads are not in the game,'' said Bryant, who made 14 of 31
shots. "If you're going to come off the bench and spell a player
for five minutes, you can't have mental lapses.''

Bryant also called out teammate Samaki Walker, who was placed on
the injured list Tuesday with a strained lower back.

"He is not hurting any more than I am,'' Bryant said. "I am
out there playing, and he should be, too.''

Los Angeles lost its seventh straight road game while allowing
the most points by an opponent this season. They also broke a
seven-game winning streak against the Magic.

The highly anticipated matchup of McGrady and Bryant -- ranked
first and third, respectively, among the NBA's scoring leaders --
was thrilling, but didn't prove who was the better player. Bryant
had 10 rebounds and McGrady nine assists.

"He's going to get his and I'm going to get mine,'' McGrady
said. "My thing is, I just started getting my teammates
involved.''

With Grant Hill starting, Armstrong came off the bench for the
first time this season. And as anticipated, he was rested and
ready.

"This role is perfect, because I think you can see how fresh he
is,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "Darrell, with rest, is
dangerous on anybody.''

"When I'm coming off the bench, you can see the change in the
pace of the game,'' Armstrong said.

Meanwhile, DeClercq stepped in after starting center Shawn Kemp
proved helpless against O'Neal, who was playing his fourth game
after being activated from the injured list last week. O'Neal
scored 18 points in the first half, but DeClercq held him to 10
points after halftime.

O'Neal made 11 of 20 shots and had nine rebounds in 36 minutes,
the most since his return from toe surgery.

"He had some difficulties and he missed some easy ones,''
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

DeClercq also had eight points and six rebounds, both season
highs.

"DeClercq was huge. Huge,'' Rivers said.

Hill had nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists despite
sitting out the fourth quarter because of pain in his surgically
repaired left ankle. He missed the previous two games and most of a
third with tendinitis in that ankle.

Rivers said he took Hill out because he thought the ankle was
being favored.

"I just decided he wasn't going to play any more,''
Rivers said.

The game marked the debut of the Magic's long-awaited big
lineup: Hill running the point with McGrady and Miller on the
wings. Orlando didn't have to wait long for a payoff, scoring 15
points in the opening 4 minutes, 37 seconds, as it opened a
nine-point advantage.

"I thought they did a really nice job playing with each other
and through each other,'' Rivers said. "It has a long way to go,
but it has some great signs.''

But with Hill's minutes being monitored as he recovers from
three operations on his left ankle, that unit was infrequently on
the floor following the promising start.

The attendance of 17,283 was the largest ever for a Magic game,
as 35 handicapped seats were added to the T.D. Waterhouse Centre
for the night.

Game notes
The Lakers had not lost to the Magic since falling in
Orlando on Feb. 22, 1998. ... Los Angeles still has a 21-7
advantage in the all-time series, including a 10-5 edge on the
road. ... With Orlando's victory, Portland has the longest current
winning streak against the Magic. The Trail Blazers have won seven
straight from Orlando. ... The sellout was the Magic's first of the
season. ... The 15 Lakers-Magic games played in Orlando have all
been in front of capacity crowds.