O'Neal had 31 points and 16 rebounds as the Lakers' All-Star duo
muscled past the Warriors in a tense fourth quarter to avenge a
107-98 loss in their previous trip to Oakland on Dec. 23. It wasn't
an easy night: The game featured short tempers, a short fight and
O'Neal's insult to a short coach.
Gary Payton was ejected in the third quarter for fighting with
Golden State's Speedy Claxton, but Bryant and O'Neal scored 27 of
the Lakers' 29 points over the final 16 minutes. None of their
teammates managed more than Payton's seven points.
"On any given night, we can do that," O'Neal said. "But I
can't wait until we get back to full strength."
O'Neal and Bryant each got a key rebound after Kareem Rush
missed two free throws with 3.9 seconds left, and O'Neal -- playing
the final six minutes with five fouls -- blocked two of Robinson's
shots in the final minute.
Afterward, O'Neal again complained about the officiating,
calling it "8-on-5" basketball. He also had a few choice words
for 5-foot-8 Golden State coach Eric Musselman.
"It's kinda funny, the little midget Warrior coach can say
anything he wants, but when Gary says something, he gets ejected,"
Jason Richardson had 25 points and Robinson added 22 in the
Warriors' first game since Feb. 11. Nick Van Exel scored 13 points
in his first game in two weeks, making clutch back-to-back baskets
in the final two minutes to keep Golden State close.
The Warriors had a fine game despite numerous trade rumors
around Van Exel and center Erick Dampier, who had just two points
and nine rebounds in 34 minutes.
"There's no time or use to talk about who's going to get traded
and who's going to be here," Robinson said. "Our focus is just
playing hard with the guys we have right now."
Van Exel's high-arching layup with 1:15 left was the game's
final basket. The Lakers couldn't score on their next two
possessions, but Van Exel missed a floating jumper from the lane
with five seconds left.
O'Neal rebounded Rush's second miss, but the All-Star game MVP
missed his putback shot. After Bryant rebounded and stepped out of
bounds with 1.3 seconds left, Robinson's jumper shortly before time
expired was blocked by O'Neal, who grabbed the ball and ran the
length of the court with it before rushing into the locker room.
Claxton had 18 points and four assists before fighting with
Payton, who was ejected for the third time in 10 games. Though the
point guards' wrestling match carried them into the scorers' table,
no punches were thrown -- and though television replays appeared to
show Payton biting Claxton, the Golden State guard said it didn't
"He wasn't having as good a game as he wanted to have, so he
got frustrated out there," Claxton said. "There was no cause for
the ejection. There were no punches and no cause to eject us."
"I thought Gary was frustrated most of the game because he
couldn't keep Speedy in front of him," said Robinson, who helped
break up the fight. "You could tell just by watching him that he
wasn't pleased. It worked out for them and hurt us, because Gary
wasn't playing that well and Speedy was making it happen."
The Lakers played on the road for the eighth time in nine games,
but came away with their fourth win in five games.
Tempers ran short in the frenzied atmosphere in front of 20,252
fans -- the second-largest crowd in Golden State's franchise history
behind the Lakers' first appearance in Oakland this season. In
addition to the fight, Devean George and Bryant also got technical
"We're putting more energy behind it," Bryant said. "Our
effort has increased. Defensively, we're making more stops.
Offensively, we're executing better."
The Warriors played the first of three home games in four
days. ... Bryant also had eight assists. ... It was the Warriors'
fourth sellout of the season.