6:30 PM ET, December 15, 2002
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Here's how bad things have been going for the Los Angeles Lakers: They became the 21st NBA team to reach double figures in wins Sunday night.
And that's in a 29-team league.
Derek Fisher had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists for the three-time defending champion Lakers (10-15), who outrebounded the Magic 52-36 in snapping a two-game losing streak and recording their most one-sided win of the season.
Bryant and Fisher both sat out the fourth quarter and O'Neal came out for good with 6:18 remaining.
For the second straight game, O'Neal left Staples Center without speaking to reporters.
Orlando's Tracy McGrady, the NBA's leading scorer with a 30.1-point average, had 21 points in the first half, but played less than two minutes after that without taking a shot because of a bruised lower back.
That certainly made it easier for the Lakers, but they'll happily take it.
"A 10th win -- we got out of the single digits,'' Rick Fox said. "Being able to shut people down -- we seem to take pride in that at playoff time. Right now we need to move that up.''
Defense has been the biggest problem for the Lakers, who allowed six of their previous 11 opponents to score over 100 points and the other five to score over 90.
"We played pretty well tonight,'' Bryant said. "It felt pretty good to sit on the bench in the fourth quarter -- first time this season.''
McGrady, walking gingerly as he left the arena, said he got elbowed in the back but hoped to play Monday night at Phoenix.
"I am a little sore,'' he said. "It's nothing related to the past, though, and that's good.''
McGrady has been hampered by back problems.
"I tried to come back, tried to give it a shot,'' he said.
It didn't work. After sitting out the third quarter, McGrady entered 27 seconds into the final period. But he left for good with 9:54 to play.
Grant Hill had 16 points and eight rebounds and Darrell Armstrong added 15 points for the Magic (13-12), who shot only 34.5 percent in losing for the fourth time in five games.
"They are not struggling, they're the world champions,'' Hill said of the Lakers. "They are the champs until somebody beats them. I'm disappointed, I thought we could have beaten them.''
The Lakers, who shot 46.3 percent, scored the first six points of the fourth quarter for an 86-69 lead, and the Magic didn't threaten after that.
"We played a much more aggressive game tonight,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It's just one game, we have to come back and make it more than one game and repeat the effort.''
The Lakers begin a four-game road trip Tuesday night in Minnesota. They'll also face New Jersey, Philadelphia and Toronto.
"It's important to forget this game and just move on,'' Bryant said. "It's about getting better, we played better tonight. Defensively we gave a better effort.''
Bryant had seven points and O'Neal six as the Lakers outscored the Magic 15-7 to start the second half for a 65-49 lead.
Both teams shot 2-of-12 to begin the second quarter before Armstrong made a 3-pointer and two free throws to trim the Lakers' lead to 41-39.
Bryant then made a short jumper for his only basket of the first half to trigger a 9-3 run, giving the Lakers a 50-42 halftime lead.
Fisher, who brought a 10.3-point average into the game, made a 3-pointer as the half ended.
McGrady scored 16 points in the first period, but the Lakers led 33-26 behind 12 points by Fisher, a 15-6 rebounding advantage, and an 8-for-8 effort from the foul line -- six by Bryant.
The Lakers beat the Magic seven straight times before losing a 112-102 decision in Orlando last month. McGrady had 38 points, six rebounds and nine assists in that game. ... Mike Miller, Orlando's second-leading scorer, returned after missing one game because of strep throat and was held scoreless in 29 minutes, missing all eight shots he tried before leaving the game for good early in the fourth quarter. "It's still not very good, but I'm going to give it a shot,'' he said before the game. ... Jackson said before the game he keeps telling his players they're going to be OK. "But you can't get down so far you can't see up,'' he said. ... The Lakers made their first 12 free throws before O'Neal missed a pair with 4:36 left before halftime.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||30-87 (.345)||37-80 (.463)|
|3PM-3PA||6-17 (.353)||7-15 (.467)|
|FTM-FTA||18-24 (.750)||26-30 (.867)|
|Fast Break Points||2||6|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||27 (0/0)||24 (2/0)|