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Bryant and Shaq each score 31, Lakers barely win

12/23/2002

TORONTO (AP) -- The struggling Los Angeles Lakers barely escaped
Toronto with a win.

Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, including a layup with 33.2
seconds left in overtime, as the Lakers ended a three-game losing
streak with a 109-107 victory over the Raptors on Sunday.

Shaquille O'Neal added 31 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers,
who won once on their four-game road trip. The Raptors were without
injured All-Star Vince Carter and leading rebounder Antonio Davis.

"We're just treading water right now,'' Los Angeles coach Phil
Jackson said.

Morris Peterson had a game-high 27 for the Raptors, who have
lost seven of eight.

Peterson's 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left in regulation
appeared to give Toronto a one-point lead, but official Michael
Henderson ruled it a two.

"He didn't make any calls. He missed them all,'' Toronto coach
Lenny Wilkens said.

Toronto's Lindsey Hunter also complained about the officials,
saying they "just don't want us to win'' late in the fourth
quarter.

Rick Fox's layup gave Los Angeles a 106-104 lead with 2:12 left
in overtime, but Jerome Williams grabbed an offensive rebound,
dunked and converted a 3-point play, giving Toronto a 107-106 lead
with 1:52 left.

O'Neal then missed a short jumper, and Brian Shaw missed a
3-pointer.

After Peterson's pass deflected off Alvin Williams' hand, Bryant
picked up the ball and made a layup, giving Los Angeles a 108-107
lead with 33.2 seconds left.

Robert Horry then made one of two free throws to make it 109-107
with 8.5 seconds left.

O'Neal fouled Hunter on a layup attempt. Hunter then missed the
first free throw attempt before intentionally missing the second.
The ball went off a Laker, giving the Raptors the possession 1.4
seconds left.

Hunter then slipped out of bounds after receiving the inbounds
pass, sealing the win for the Lakers, who improved to 3-13 on the
road.

"At least we won one,'' Bryant said of the road trip. "The
last time we were on a East Coast trip we won none.''

Bryant said the Lakers are struggling because they are tired.

"We've won championships in the past few seasons, but in the
process we've played four seasons,'' Bryant said. "It takes a toll
on your body. We also face teams that come out every night and play
their best basketball.''

Derek Fisher's 18-foot jumper gave Los Angeles a four-point lead
with less than two minutes left in regulation, but Jerome Williams
followed with a jumper.

After Bryant missed one of his two free throw attempts, Hunter
made a long jumper to cut Los Angeles' lead to two with 40 seconds
left.

Jerome Williams then blocked Bryant's leaning jump shot attempt
with 18 seconds left. Peterson then followed with what appeared to
be his go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left in regulation, but
the officials ruled it a two, tying the game at 102.

"I came off a screen and made sure I was behind the line,''
Peterson said.

Fisher then missed a jumper at the buzzer, sending the game into
overtime.

"We had to pull this one out of the fire,'' Jackson said.
"This was very close to the prototype of the way we've been
playing. We just can't seem to break through.''

The Raptors trailed by 11 midway through the third quarter, but
pulled within two with 3:08 left in the period with an 8-2 run.

Hunter's consecutive 3-pointers early in the fourth gave Toronto
82-81 lead -- its first lead since early in the first quarter.

Bryant scored 22 points and had four assists as Los Angeles led
54-45 at halftime. O'Neal had 13 points and 12 rebounds in the
first half, but he missed nine of his 10 free throws.

Game notes
The Lakers host Sacramento on Christmas night. Asked if the
Lakers dislike the Kings, Rick Fox said: "Actually, they've been
pretty good to us the last three years.'' The Lakers eliminated the
Kings in the playoffs the last three years. Fox fought Kings guard
Doug Christie twice during a preseason game two months ago. "Going
into the tunnel was the worst decision I've made as a basketball
player. It's something I learned from,'' Fox said. ... Los Angeles
forward Devean George is day-to-day with tendinitis in his right
ankle. George missed 10 games earlier this season with the injury.
... Toronto's bench outscored Los Angeles' bench 35-11.

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