Two nights after Bryant posted the league's top scoring night of
the season -- 55 points against Washington and Michael Jordan on
Friday -- he fell with a thud, going for less than half of his 30.4
scoring average with his third-lowest point total of the season.
''It's tough,'' Bryant said. ''You've got to get into the flow
of the game. I'll get it back, though.''
Bryant had only three points at halftime, a big drop from his
42-point first-half effort against the Wizards.
''I don't know what was going on. I have no idea,'' Lakers coach
Phil Jackson said. ''I called some things for him but, obviously,
they (Sonics) stepped it up a little bit against him.''
But instead of clapping his hands and calling for the ball, as
he often does, Bryant floated on the perimeter and watched.
He explained the difference between the two games by saying the
Lakers wanted to go to Shaquille O'Neal, who scored 34 points on
11-for-12 shooting, to exploit Seattle's soft inside game.
''It's a different mind-set,'' Bryant said. ''You've got the
mind-set of attacking, being aggressive and scoring the ball. Then
you try to be more all-around. I was just trying to get in a
rhythm. It's all about re-establishing that.''
Brent Barry added 15 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds,
barely missing his first career triple-double for the second
consecutive game. He had 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in
the 95-71 victory Friday over Memphis.
''I didn't think it would come so fast ,'' said Barry, who had
predicted he'd get another chance at a triple-double after the
Memphis game. ''Getting close is nice, but getting a win is much
better. It's just a stat.''
Peja Drobnjak had 20 points as the Sonics, making a late bid for
the final Western Conference playoff spot, scored a season-high
point total, shot a season-high 56 percent and snapped the Lakers'
three-game winning streak.
''We were able to get out and get some transition,'' Seattle
coach Nate McMillan said. ''We shot the ball well. When we can
defend and get out on the transition and space the floor while
shooting like that, we can be tough.''
The Sonics pulled to 2½ games of Phoenix and Houston for the
No. 8 spot in the West. And they did it by dominating the
three-time defending champions, taking control early.
Barry hit two 3-pointers midway through the second period to put
Seattle ahead 37-27 and Allen had six points during an 11-4 run
that made it 50-33 with 2:35 remaining before halftime.
The Lakers, meanwhile, shot 3-for-14 in the second period.
''It's one game,'' Bryant said. ''Obviously, we have some
weaknesses. We're not as unbeatable as we were in years past.
That's going to happen, but we're still the defending champions
until someone proves us otherwise.''
The Sonics led 57-36 at the break, the second-fewest points by
the Lakers in one half this season. They had 35 in the first half
of what became a 102-85 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on
Bryant opened the second half with two 3-pointers but the Sonics
seemed willing to defend him softly by that point, hoping to let
the clock run or get a rebound to start another fastbreak.
''The last couple of months, he's been shooting the ball so much
and scoring points,'' Allen said. ''I think their team has been
sitting around watching him do what he's capable of doing. He has
O'Neal, Bryant and the other Los Angeles starters spent most of
the fourth quarter on the bench.
O'Neal, who left without speaking to reporters, hit his
first six field goals and his first four free throws. ... Referee
Joe Crawford lost his balance and tumbled downcourt late in the
third quarter, then later smiled and pointed to his right biceps to
show he was OK. ... Sonics fan Brad Kaul of Renton, Wash., swished
a halfcourt shot at halftime to win $100,000 in a radio station
promotion. He missed a 75-footer for $1 million. ... Seattle had a
38-33 rebounding edge.