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Bryant notches fifth triple-double of season

1/11/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- This time, Kobe Bryant wasn't interested in
shooting 3-pointers.

Missing his only two shots from beyond the arc, Bryant drove and
made several floating dunks, dished the ball off to open teammates
and rebounded.

It all added up to a triple-double in the Los Angeles Lakers'
115-99 victory Friday night over Cleveland.

Bryant, who set an NBA mark for 3-pointers in a game with 12 --
including a league-record nine in a row -- in the Lakers' win over
Seattle on Tuesday, had 21 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds
against the Cavaliers for his fifth triple-double of the season and
eighth of his career.

The victory gave the Lakers their first three-game winning
streak of the season.

"We were really aggressive on the defensive side of the ball.
We're moving the ball very well and reading the defense very
well,'' Bryant said. "We got a lot of easy points in transition,
and that helped out a lot.

"We were able to force turnovers, which create easy baskets. I
think if we continue to pressure teams and take them out of their
comfort zone, we'll be able to do that on a consistent basis.''

Shaquille O'Neal, who played the second half with a pad on his
left shin after being bruised by an accidental kick in the second
quarter, had 26 points.

O'Neal was 9-for-18 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the line as
Los Angeles avenged one of its most embarrassing losses ever.

The Lakers scored a franchise low point total in an 89-70 loss
at Cleveland on Nov. 5, shooting just 32 percent from the field.
O'Neal was still sidelined following toe surgery.

"We owed them one,'' Bryant said. "It's always embarrassing to
lose like that. But you kind of put it in your memory bank and move
onto the next game.

"We came out tonight and really put it on them.''

Cleveland coach John Lucas was impressed, saying "They are
beginning to put it together. People are going to have to watch
that team.''

Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had 20 points, said,
"Shaq makes a big difference. That is not the team we played in
Cleveland.''

Derek Fisher and Rick Fox added 13 points each for the Lakers,
whose starters all scored in double figures and shot 61 percent
from the floor.

Ricky Davis scored 27 points for the Cavaliers, who lost for the
sixth time in seven games and have an NBA-worst 7-30 record.

Fox scored all his points in the third quarter as Los Angeles
built as much as a 28-point lead, 92-64. Lakers reserves mopped up
in the fourth.

"We're looking pretty good, and hopefully we'll be at .500
going into the All-Star game,'' O'Neal said after the Lakers
improved to 16-20. "We didn't start off too well, but we're
getting our momentum back.

"There's still a lot of room for improvement, but we're playing
good team basketball and playing with a lot of energy.''

Bryant and Fisher helped the Lakers take control in the second
quarter and Los Angeles led 65-49 at halftime.

With Bryant zipping the ball from the right corner across the
court, Fisher hit consecutive 3-pointers for a 56-41 lead, then
added a jumper and another 3-pointer off Bryant's assists before
halftime.

Game notes
Before the game, O'Neal said he was joking, not being a
racist, when he used a mock Chinese accent talking about Houston
center Yao Ming. The Lakers' center said he tries to be a comedian
at times, and "Sometimes I make a good joke and sometimes it's a
bad joke. That's just the ups and downs of trying to be a
comedian.'' ... After the Cavaliers beat the Lakers in November,
Cleveland lost its next 15. ... The three-time defending NBA
champion Lakers had won two in a row five times this season. ...
The NBA record for most 3-pointers over two games is 16, shared by
Dale Ellis and George McCloud.