Playing again without the injured O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Karl
Malone, the Lakers beat the Los Angeles Clippers 91-89 Saturday
night for their fourth win in five games.
"They're playing good. They're all getting a lot of touches,
the ball's been moving good and Gary (Payton) has been doing
good," O'Neal said.
Payton, the only one of the Lakers' four superstars able to
play, had 15 points and 15 assists, and Stanislav Medvedenko added
20 points and 10 rebounds.
"Even though he couldn't find a way to make shots, Gary still
found a way to score, to get some assists and help other people
score," coach Phil Jackson said of Payton, who was 7-of-19 from
Elton Brand had 35 points and 20 rebounds for the Clippers, who
took it down to the wire but lost when Keyon Dooling's desperation
3-point try bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
After trailing most of the first half, the Lakers went up 66-60
on Fisher's 3-pointer with three seconds left in the third quarter.
The Clippers shot only 7-of-29 in the third period, while the
Lakers went 10-of-16.
"We're going to have to go through a lot of trials and
tribulations this year, but it's only going to make us an excellent
and closer team," said O'Neal, who has missed 10 games with a
strained right calf. "Any villain can beat super heroes when
Superman is not around.
"I love how hard our guys play. We don't ever give up. Just
when you think they should be knocked out of the box, they come
back, and that's a really good sign," Dunleavy said.
O'Neal and Bryant will miss at least another week, and Malone is
expected to be out at least two more weeks.
Bryant is on the injured list with a strained right shoulder and
has missed four games. Malone, on the injured list for the first
time in his NBA career, has missed 13 games because of a sprained
ligament in his right knee.
The Lakers also are without backup center Horace Grant, who left
the team to be with his ailing father in Georgia.
The Clippers beat the Lakers 101-98 on Jan. 4, when the Lakers
were without O'Neal and Malone.
The Lakers were the home team for the rematch and are 19-2 this
season at Staples Center, which the two teams share. The Clippers
have a 12-10 home record.
Jackson doesn't believe Bryant will have any lingering
effects from the shoulder injury. "He has full range of motion,
but just a little soreness when he moves it certain ways," Jackson
said. ... Clippers G Quentin Richardson will be out at least
through Monday's game against Sacramento because of a sprained
right hand. ... Clippers G-F Bobby Simmons had an MRI on his
sprained hip and is out indefinitely. Simmons was hurt in Friday
night's loss to Miami. "The injury to Bobby is a big blow to us
because of his ability to play three positions, so it's like losing
three players," Dunleavy said, adding that he expects Simmons to
be sidelined two to three weeks.