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Lakers need Bryant's fourth triple-double of season

12/4/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It wasn't a thing of beauty, but the way
things are going these days, the Los Angeles Lakers will take
whatever they can get.

Kobe Bryant had 24 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his
fourth triple-double of the season Tuesday night as the three-time
defending champions struggled to a 101-91 victory over the Memphis
Grizzlies.

Shaquille O'Neal added 28 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks
for the Lakers (7-12), who now have a 4-3 record since the big
center returned to action. Included in that total is an
overtime victory over the Grizzlies in Memphis last Friday night.

''We're getting there,'' said Bryant, who has seven career
triple-doubles. ''It's a process. We played pretty well in spurts.
We got some stops when we needed them, made some shots when we
needed them.''

Regarding his performance, Bryant said: ''I put it in cruise
control. My tendinitis kind of flared up on me. My knees are
killing me.''

O'Neal left without speaking to reporters.

The Grizzlies (2-16) had won two of their previous four games
after losing their first 13. They're 2-8 since Hubie Brown replaced
Sidney Lowe as coach.

The Grizzlies closed to two points with seven minutes left and
trailed by only five with less than 2½ minutes to play before the
Lakers pulled away.

''That was a struggle tonight,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
''We made it a struggle because of our turnovers.''

The Lakers won by only 10 points despite shooting 40-for-79 (50.6
percent), including 10-for-15 from 3-point range.

The Grizzlies shot 34-for-91 (37.4 percent) including 7-for-19
from beyond the arc.

The Lakers committed 20 turnovers to 12 for the Grizzlies and
shot 11-for-20 on free throws while Memphis was 16-for-20 from the
foul line.

''The players were asking me to get out the sage or the sweet
grass and smudge the locker room again because it's obvious there's
something amiss in the air,'' Jackson said regarding his team's
dreadful start. ''But I just say it's a matter of communication and
we're going to get that and we'll be in sync soon.''

Rick Fox added 14 points and Derek Fisher scored 12 for the
Lakers.

Lorenzen Wright led the Grizzlies with 17 points and eight
rebounds. Wesley Person added 13 points and Shane Battier, Drew
Gooden and Pau Gasol had 11 each.

The Memphis starters scored 42 points and the reserves had 49.

''We were pleased with our second unit,'' Brown said. ''They
kept bringing us back, that's why we stayed with them. All we are
trying to do is hope that we have the chance to win the game in the
last three or four minutes. If you think about it, we were right
there."

A three-point play by Bryant and two free throws by O'Neal
extended the Lakers' lead to 80-71 early in the fourth quarter.

Person's 3-pointer with 6:59 to play capped a 9-2 run, drawing
the Grizzlies to two points down, but Fisher's 3-pointer, a short
jumper by Bryant and Fox's layup off a pass from Bryant put the
Lakers ahead 91-82 with 3:15 left.

The Grizzlies weren't closer than five points after that.

''The biggest thing since Hubie took over is the way we play
together and the way we play defense,'' Gooden said. ''We're out
there every night putting up a fight.''

O'Neal scored five points and Fox and Bryant added 3-pointers
during a 13-5 run that gave the Lakers a 59-49 lead midway through
the third quarter.

But the Grizzlies battled back, closing to three points on
two free throws by Wright. The Lakers led 75-69 entering the final
period.

Game notes
Lakers forward Robert Horry, who missed two games because of a
sore left ankle, returned to action and had 11 points, six rebounds
and six assists in 27 minutes. ... Lakers forward Samaki Walker, on the
injured list because of a strained back, said he's feeling much
better and hopes to play Friday night against Dallas. He had a
cortisone shot Monday. ... Grizzlies guard Brevin Knight missed his
fourth game because of a sprained right ankle. ... A street next to
Staples Center was officially named Chick Hearn Court on Tuesday in
honor of the longtime Lakers announcer who died last August from
head injuries suffered in a fall at his home. He would have turned
86 last week. ... Lakers forward Mark Madsen shot airballs on successive
free throws in the second quarter. ... The Lakers have a 27-2
overall record against the Grizzlies, including 15-0 at home.