Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 1/2

Game 1: Friday, January 2nd
Game 2: Wednesday, January 28th
Game 3: Friday, March 5th
Game 4: Friday, April 2nd

SuperSonics 82

(22-22, 9-12 away)

Lakers 96

(27-15, 20-3 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 28, 2004

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    SEA 26 20 24 1282
    LAL 24 30 17 2596

    Top Performers

    Sea: R. Allen 18 Pts, 10 Reb, 10 Ast, 1 Stl

    LAL: G. Payton 24 Pts, 1 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    Ex-Sonic Payton scores 24; Allen has triple-double

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It wasn't vintage Shaquille O'Neal or Rick Fox, or anywhere close. But it was a beginning.

    O'Neal and Fox returned from injuries, and Gary Payton had 24 points against his former team as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 96-82 Wednesday night.

    The Lakers won despite Ray Allen's third career triple-double and first this season. Allen had 22 points and season-high totals of 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

    O'Neal missed 12 games because of a strained right calf, and Fox was playing for the first time since tearing a tendon in his left foot nine months ago.

    O'Neal had seven points and five rebounds in 18 minutes and Fox scored two points in eight minutes.

    O'Neal didn't speak with reporters in the locker room, although while signing autographs as he left Staples Center, he did say: "I'm cool. It's a little sore, but I'm cool."

    Coach Phil Jackson said beforehand that O'Neal would play limited minutes, and he was true to his word. The All-Star center played nearly nine minutes at the start and a little over nine to begin the third quarter.

    O'Neal had been sidelined since being injured Jan. 2 in the second quarter of a 111-109 loss at Seattle. The Lakers were 5-7 in his absence.

    Fox received a standing ovation upon entering the game at the start of the second quarter.

    "You can talk about wanting to be composed, under control. It got a little anxious out there," he said. "It's just a matter of building and being ready when called upon."

    Kobe Bryant, playing his second game since missing six because of a sprained right shoulder, had 14 points and Derek Fisher added 11. Los Angeles' reserves outscored their Seattle counterparts 36-23.

    Bryant admitted his shoulder bothered him.

    "It felt all right. I had to compensate in some areas," he said. "It's good enough to play. It goes dead through certain parts of the game but I just try to shake it off."

    The Sonics committed seven of their 18 turnovers in the fourth quarter, when the Lakers outscored them 25-12.

    "We really struggled to score and stop this team tonight," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought their defense was pretty good, but I thought it was our turnovers. Their defense did tighten up a little bit, but it was just bad execution."

    Rashard Lewis scored 22 points and Flip Murray added 13 for Seattle.

    Allen minimized the significance of his triple-double.

    "We didn't win. It would have been great to celebrate if we had won the game," he said. "It's like a ship passing in the night. You just see it and it goes."

    A jumper by Murray 30 seconds into the fourth quarter gave the Sonics a 72-71 lead -- their first since early in the second period.

    But the Lakers scored the next 12 points on two baskets by Bryon Russell and one each by fellow reserves Kareem Rush, Fisher, Horace Grant and Luke Walton for an 11-point lead.

    Allen made two free throws with 5:38 left for Seattle's first points in nearly five minutes.

    Murray's basket late in the third period capped a 17-6 run and tied the game 65-all. The Lakers led 71-70 entering the final period.

    Allen had eight points and three assists as the Sonics took a 16-3 lead in the opening 3:40 of play.

    Wearing a sleeve on his calf, O'Neal scored his first points on dunk with five minutes gone.

    It was 22-9 before the Lakers went on a 15-4 run to finish the first quarter, cutting Seattle's lead to 26-24. The Lakers led by as many as 11 points in the second period before settling for a 54-46 halftime lead.

    Game notes

    Karl Malone, sidelined because of a sprained knee ligament, criticized the Utah Jazz for a skit presented during a timeout in Saturday night's Lakers-Jazz game in Utah. Malone, who played 18 years for the Jazz before joining the Lakers last summer, was upset about the way the skit mocked Bryant's legal situation. "For them to put that out there about him, that's disrespectful," Malone said. "I will never, ever forgive them for this. No class at all." ... The Sonics played without G Brent Barry, who will have surgery on his broken right ring finger Thursday and is expected to miss at least five weeks. Barry was injured during Tuesday night's 118-116 loss to Dallas. ... Lakers C Jamal Sampson missed his fourth game because of a sprained right ankle. He said he hopes to available Friday night against Minnesota in the Lakers' last home game until Feb. 17. ... Fox picked up two fouls in his first 1:23 of action and finished with four in his eight minutes.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 82 96
    FGM-FGA 31-74 (.419) 40-86 (.465)
    3PM-3PA 5-20 (.250) 5-16 (.313)
    FTM-FTA 15-18 (.833) 11-19 (.579)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-43 13-39
    Assists 17 26
    Turnovers 18 7
    Steals 2 8
    Blocks 3 2
    Fast Break Points 2 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 16 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Ray Allen Allen
    Points: 18
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Gary Payton Payton
    Points: 24
    Reb: 1
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0