Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 11/26

Game 1: Tuesday, November 26th
Game 2: Sunday, January 12th

Heat 81

(12-25, 6-15 away)

Lakers 106

(17-20, 13-6 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    6:30 PM ET, January 12, 2003

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 20 30 11 2081
    LAL 27 23 30 26106

    Top Performers

    Mia: C. Butler 23 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Stl

    LAL: K. Bryant 36 Pts, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl

    Bryant handles scoring, Walker handles boards

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The winning has come easy for the Los Angeles Lakers lately -- no surprise considering they've been playing mostly losing teams at home.

    That will change this week, and the three-time defending NBA champions believe they're up to the challenge.

    "We've got two tough games coming up. Hopefully we can come back here one game under .500,'' Shaquille O'Neal said after the Lakers beat the outmanned Miami Heat 106-81 on Sunday night.

    Kobe Bryant scored 36 points, and Samaki Walker had a season-high 16 rebounds as the Lakers took command in the third quarter.

    O'Neal added 15 points, Rick Fox scored 12 and rookie Kareem Rush had a career-high 11 for the Lakers, who shot 51.3 percent and outscored the Heat 56-31 after halftime.

    The win extended the Lakers' longest winning streak of the season to four games and avenged a 97-85 loss at Miami on Nov. 26.

    The Lakers (17-20) have won six of seven to move within three games of .500 -- the closest they've been since Nov. 15.

    Their next two games are at New Orleans (20-19) on Wednesday night and at Houston (20-15) two nights later.

    "We just have to remember how to win on the road,'' Bryant said. "It comes down to poise and execution.''

    The Lakers have beaten only five teams -- Portland, Dallas, Utah, Orlando and Phoenix -- with winning records. And they've got a miserable 4-14 road record.

    "We have to play with a different presence,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We wouldn't be happy with a loss on this trip.''

    Jackson acknowledged that the Lakers have shot much better recently, but added: "That's not going to win on the road as much as defense is. The defense is not as strong as it should be.''

    It wasn't very good at all in the second quarter against Miami, but as Bryant said: "In the second half, we just tightened up the screws defensively.''

    The Heat (12-25) shot 52.8 percent in the first half and 30.8 percent after halftime in losing their sixth game in a row -- a season high.

    Leading scorer Eddie Jones missed his fifth game because of a sprained right ankle.

    "Nobody likes to lose,'' said Miami coach Pat Riley, who coached the Lakers to four NBA championships in the 1980s. "We're going through a real hard period right now, our best players are hurt.

    "I hope getting back to Miami, we can regroup, re-energize.''

    The Lakers put the game away by outscoring the Heat 30-11 in the third quarter for an 80-61 lead. Los Angeles shot 11-of-17 and Miami 5-of-19 in the period.

    The Lakers scored 13 straight points at one stage late in the third quarter to go ahead by 21 points. Miami wasn't closer than 15 points after that.

    "Everybody's still got faith,'' said rookie Caron Butler, who led the Heat with 21 points and seven rebounds. "We're just going to continue to bring 100 percent effort, listen to Coach.''

    Bryant, who played 37 minutes and came out for good with 8:07 remaining, didn't make a 3-pointer for the second straight game after making an NBA-record 12 in a 119-98 victory over Seattle.

    He shot 12-of-21, made 12-of-13 free throws and also had three rebounds, four assists and four steals.

    Rookie Rasual Butler added 16 points; Mike James scored 14, and Vladimir Stepania had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat.

    Caron Butler scored eight points and James five during a 13-4 run that put the Heat ahead 37-35.

    It was 50-all at halftime. The Heat shot 12-of-18 in the second period including 5-of-5 by Caron Butler, who scored 14 points, and 5-of-6 by James, who scored 11.

    Bryant shot 8-of-10 and scored 22 points in the first half, but O'Neal was just 2-of-9 and had only six points. He sat out the last 2:45 with three fouls.

    Game notes

    The Lakers' last six wins have come by 12 or more points, but only one -- a 109-97 victory over Phoenix -- was over a team with a winning record. ... O'Neal, who missed the season's first 12 games recovering from surgery on his right big toe, said he's probably about 25 percent away from being at 100 percent physically. He said he believes he'll be there midway through the second half of the season. ... Each of Miami's last six losses have been by 14 or more points. Travis Best, who normally starts in the backcourt with Jones, has missed all six because of a sprained right ankle that landed him on the injured list. ... Jones said he's uncertain when he'll return to action. "I definitely thought I'd be able to play on the (five-game) trip,'' he said. "It hasn't happened.''

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 81 106
    FGM-FGA 31-75 (.413) 40-78 (.513)
    3PM-3PA 3-7 (.429) 6-16 (.375)
    FTM-FTA 16-19 (.842) 20-24 (.833)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-40 8-38
    Assists 19 25
    Turnovers 21 14
    Steals 9 11
    Blocks 1 3
    Fast Break Points 5 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (0/0) 17 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Caron Butler Butler
    Points: 23
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 36
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0