Eight Lakers in double figures

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Another game without Shaquille O'Neal,
another blowout victory for the Los Angeles Lakers.

It's obviously nothing more than coincidence.

"We want him back in the worst way," Karl Malone said after
the Lakers took command early in beating the Washington Wizards
120-99 on Wednesday night.

"It is impressive, but hey, we realize who he is and what he
means to us. Guys have just found their stroke a little bit. Let's
not put the buggy ahead of the horse. We know what he means to

Kobe Bryant scored 22 points and Devean George had a season-high
18 points for the Lakers, who shot 61.4 percent (43-of-70).

Eight Los Angeles players scored in double figures, something
that hadn't happened for the Lakers since Feb. 19, 1998.

"They spanked us pretty good," Washington's Kwame Brown said.
"If Shaq was in the game, who knows?"

The Lakers shot 59.2 percent without O'Neal in a 121-89 victory
over Memphis on Sunday night.

"A lot of people are finding their stroke and then we are
getting easy buckets and layups," George said.

"We're having fun, that's good, that's what we're supposed to
do -- have fun and win games," Lakers guard Gary Payton said. "As
soon as the Big Fella comes back, it's going to be even better."

The game was essentially over by halftime, when the Lakers held
a 61-36 lead. The Wizards (6-9) were playing their fourth road game
in six nights.

O'Neal, who has a strained muscle in his right calf, said he
hopes to return Friday night against the defending NBA champion San
Antonio Spurs.

"Right now, I'm about 70 percent," he said before the game.
"If I can get it up to 80, I'll be ready to go."

The win was the fourth straight and seventh in eight games for
the Lakers (12-3). It also extended their regular-season home
winning streak to 23, including eight this season.

The Wizards lost for the seventh time in 10 games. They played
their second game without leading scorer Gilbert Arenas, who went
on the injured list Tuesday with a severe abdominal strain.

Derek Fisher and Kareem Rush added 14 points each and Malone had
13 for the Lakers. None of the Los Angeles starters played in the
fourth quarter.

Rookie Jarvis Hayes led Washington with 22 points to equal his
career high. Juan Dixon added a season-high 20 points for the
Wizards, who had six players in double figures.

"Those are the type of ones you forget about -- throw away the
tape," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "They are playing for a
championship. They showed it. We're just not good enough now to
compete at their highest level."

A three-point play by George with 7:33 remaining in the third
quarter gave the Lakers a 73-44 lead. It was 92-69 entering the
final period.

Hayes scored eight points and Dixon added five as the Wizards
outscored the Lakers 15-8 to start the fourth quarter, making it

But Bryon Russell and Fisher made back-to-back 3-pointers to put
the Lakers ahead by 22.

Medvedenko and Fisher scored seven points each during a 22-7 run
that extended the Lakers' lead to 57-32 late in the second quarter.

The Lakers scored 10 straight points -- five by Bryant -- for a
14-6 lead in the opening 4:15 of play.

They led the rest of the way.

Bryant had 11 points and George had nine in the first period,
which ended with the Lakers leading 31-21. The Wizards weren't
closer than 10 points after that.

Game notes
The win was the 11th straight for the Lakers over the
Wizards in Los Angeles. ... The Lakers' longest regular-season home
winning streak since moving to Los Angeles from Minneapolis in 1960
is 24. They can tie the mark against the Spurs and break it Sunday
night against Indiana. ... Since the Wizards didn't replace Arenas
on their active roster, he can return to action before he sits out
five games. "We'll have a much better feel when our doctors
examine him firsthand at home," Wizards general manager Ernie
Grunfeld said. "He's pretty sore right now." ... The game was the
fourth in six nights for the Wizards -- all on the road. They
entertain Detroit on Saturday before beginning another four-game
road trip Tuesday at Dallas. ... Horace Grant started in O'Neal's
place and had three points and six rebounds in a season-high 28
minutes. ... Rush's 14 points were a career high.

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