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Shaq and Kobe get timely help to put down Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Lakers found a way to win late in a game
they might have blown a month ago.

Shaquille O'Neal had 32 points and 15 rebounds, Kobe Bryant
added 26 points and 11 assists and Los Angeles defeated the
Clippers 96-92 Monday night to win their sixth in a row at Staples
Center.

"I'm glad the clock ran out finally. It was a very unusual
night for us,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We stumbled, kind
of fumbled into that win.''

Jackson earned his 200th victory as Lakers coach in his 286th
game, the quickest to do so in franchise history.

The Lakers improved to 14-6 at home and have won six of their
last seven overall.

"That's more indicative of the type of basketball that's won us
championships,'' said Rick Fox, who hit two 3-pointers in the
fourth after going 1-for-7 through three quarters. "We're
improving and it's starting to show with some wins.''

Neither team led by more than six points in a game that wasn't
decided until the final two minutes. Even then, the Clippers had a
late chance to win when the Lakers' Robert Horry turned the ball
over with the Clippers trailing by two.

Lamar Odom came down the middle with a defender on him and could
have driven to the basket or pulled up for a short jumper, but he
swung the ball to his right where he didn't realize Corey Maggette
was being tightly defended.

Maggette was called for an offensive foul and Bryant made both
free throws to seal the win.

"On a play like that, all kinds of stuff is running through
your head,'' Clippers guard Andre Miller said. "I thought he was
going to go straight to the basket, but he kicked it out.''

Miller led five Clippers in double figures with 20 points.
Maggette scored 18, Michael Olowokandi had 15, Elton Brand had 11
points and 12 rebounds and Keyon Dooling had 11 points.

"We were just determined not to let Kobe or Shaq make the big
shots against us, and for the most part, I thought we did a great
job on those two guys,'' Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. "But
their support players stepped up and made big plays. That's the
difference between a veteran team and a young team trying to find
itself.''

Although the Lakers still haven't found a reliable third scoring
option to O'Neal and Bryant, their supporting cast supplied big
baskets that allowed the Lakers to take the lead in the final 2½
minutes.

Trailing 82-77, Derek Fisher hit a 3-pointer, then O'Neal
grabbed a rebound off a missed shot and scored underneath to tie
the game at 82. He got fouled, but missed the free throw. Samaki
Walker grabbed the rebound and Fox hit a 3-pointer from the left
corner for an 85-82 lead.

Fisher followed with a 19-footer from the right corner and the
Lakers led 87-82 with 1:50 remaining.

"Derek Fisher stepped up and made two big shots for them and
Rick Fox made a big shot for them,'' Gentry said. "Those are the
same guys everybody was complaining about a few weeks ago. So
obviously, those guys are back doing their role and playing the way
they should play.''

Maggette made two free throws to draw the Clippers within three
before Fox hit another 3-pointer, pushing the Lakers' lead to
90-84. Miller again got the Clippers within three on a 3-pointer
before Olowokandi committed his sixth foul against O'Neal, who made
both for a 82-87 lead.

"We took the guys next door a little too lightly,'' O'Neal
said. "However, we still had enough gusto to win it at the end.''

Odom scored and the Clippers trailed by three with 36 seconds
left. Maggette fouled Bryant, who made both for a 94-89 lead with
18.5 seconds to go.

Bryant and O'Neal combined for all but 38 of the team's points,
with Fisher the only other Laker in double figures with 12. Walker
matched O'Neal with 15 rebounds.

The Clippers were coming off a 112-107 upset victory of Pacific
Division-leading Sacramento on Saturday. In that game, the
frontline of Odom, Brand and Olowokandi combined for 69 points and
36 rebounds. This time, the trio had 35 points and 25 rebounds.

"Coach has been telling us that if we give it our best effort,
we can play with anyone,'' Brand said. "We beat the Sacramento
team and this game could have gone any way.''

Game notes
Jackson joined Pat Riley (533), John Kundla (466), Fred
Schaus (315), Bill Sharman (246) and Del Harris (224) as the six
coaches in Laker history with 200 or more wins. Both Riley and
Kundla held the old record of 200 wins in 289 games. ... The Lakers
are 6-1 against the Clippers as the home team at Staples. ...
Before the game, Bryant couldn't stop smiling as he talked about
the birth of his first child, a daughter named Natalia, on Sunday.
He wore his plastic hospital ID bracelet during the game. ... The
Clippers debuted their alternate road uniforms for the game at
Staples Center. They'll wear the predominantly blue uniforms with
"Los Angeles'' in red script across the front seven more times
this season.

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