Bryant notches 44 points, 10 boards

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant and Elton Brand are just rounding
into form after dealing with health issues.

Both reached season-highs Sunday night, with Bryant winning that
battle by scoring 44 points to Brand's 30.

But Brand's all-around game was better, and so was his team as
the Clippers won a 101-98 decision over the short-handed Lakers.

"It definitely feels good to get that win, now it's time to
move on," Brand said. "We definitely have bragging rights, we own
the city tonight -- at least until we play them again.

"We wanted it at the end."

The Clippers got just their third win in the last 26 games
between the crosstown rivals thanks in part to blocked shots by
Brand and seldom-used Keyon Dooling in the final seconds.

"We had to make some great saves at the end of the game -- some
great blocks," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "The win is
great, but it's not the standard of what I expect -- the standard of

Brand, who missed 13 games because of a stress fracture in his
right foot early in the season, had 15 rebounds, six assists and
five blocked shots to go with his 30 points.

Bryant, who underwent offseason shoulder and knee surgery, also
had a season-high 10 rebounds and four steals.

The Lakers played without Shaquille O'Neal, who strained his
right calf Friday night in a 111-109 loss at Seattle and is listed
as day-to-day.

In addition, Karl Malone was placed on the injured list for the
first time in his 19-year career. Malone hasn't played since
spraining a ligament in his right knee Dec. 21 in the Lakers'
107-101 victory over Phoenix.

The Clippers weren't at full strength, either. Both starter
Marko Jaric (sprained left foot) and reserve Bobby Simmons
(sprained right wrist) missed the game with injuries sustained
Saturday in a 116-109 loss to Sacramento.

Bryant's steal and dunk with 1:21 remaining moved the Lakers
within three points, and Derek Fisher made a basket with 51.3
seconds left on a goaltending call against Chris Kaman.

Fisher was fouled on the play and could have tied the game, but
missed his free throw.

Fisher had a chance to give the Lakers the lead, but Brand
blocked his layup with a little over 11 seconds left.

"Man, he made a great crossover move to get to the basket,"
Brand said. "I didn't want to foul him. I came up with the

Fisher expressed the opinion that he was fouled, and Bryant said
the same thing.

"Oh, he got fouled -- I got a clear look at it," Bryant said.

Corey Maggette made a free throw to give the Clippers a
two-point lead with 10.2 seconds to play before Dooling blocked a
layup by Gary Payton, who said he thought goaltending should have
been called.

"I just challenged the shot," Dooling said. "I got hit by a
back-screen, I was just trying to recover. It went my way."

Brand's free throw with 1.7 seconds remaining completed the
scoring. Payton's 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim
and bounced away.

"It looked good," Payton said of his final shot. "Things have
been going bad for us -- you can't expect that."

The win was the only fourth in nine games for the Clippers
(14-16) while the Lakers (21-9) lost for the sixth time in nine

Quentin Richardson added 20 points; Maggette had 16 points and
10 rebounds, and Doug Overton had season-highs of 14 points and
seven rebounds along with six assists for the Clippers.

Slava Medvedenko equaled his career high with 18 points and also
had eight rebounds for the Lakers. Payton added 10 points while
Devean George didn't score, missing all eight shots he attempted
while playing only 14 minutes.

Fisher's jumper with 7:45 left capped a 10-2 run by the Lakers
to start the fourth quarter and tie the game at 86.

The Lakers made the move without Bryant, who was getting a rest.

Another jumper by Fisher with 5:14 remaining put the Lakers
ahead 90-89 -- their first lead of the second half.

But two free throws by Brand and a basket by Overton gave the
Clippers a 93-90 lead with 4:25 to play.

Bryant made two free throws 21 seconds later for his first
points of the fourth quarter to draw the Lakers within one point,
but that's as close as they would get.

Game notes
The Lakers activated 20-year-old forward/center Jamal
Sampson, who had been placed on the injured list Nov. 23 because of
back spasms. ... Lakers coach Phil Jackson said a decision will be
made Monday whether O'Neal will travel for games at Minnesota and
Denver on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. ... Malone must miss those
games, as well as home games against Atlanta on Friday night and
Cleveland on Monday night, making it a minimum of nine he sits out
since being injured. He is eligible to play Jan. 14 against Denver.
... The game was played before a crowd of 19,653 -- the first
sellout for the Clippers in 19 home games this season. ... The
teams meet again Jan. 17, when the Lakers will be designated as the
home team.

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