L.A. Lakers 89, Cleveland 79
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 12 (Ticker) --
The first meeting between rookie LeBron James
and Kobe Bryant
was a disappointment for the Cleveland
Cavaliers but potentially devastating for the Los Angeles
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With James struggling and Bryant sidelined with a shoulder injury,
rookie Brian Cook
scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter
and rallied the Lakers to an 89-79 victory over the Cavaliers.
James is a favorite for Rookie of the Year and Bryant is one of
the most explosive scorers in the league, but a potential
showdown was short-circuited early.
The injury-plagued Lakers lost Bryant to a sprained right
shoulder in the first half. He did not return, leaving Los
Angeles without Bryant, center Shaquille O'Neal
and forward Karl Malone
from its starting lineup.
"We've got to absorb what happens and move forward," Lakers
coach Phil Jackson
said. "If you let that rock you, then you're
not going to be able to develop. We have a great bunch of guys
in here who lay it on the line every night. That's what we're going
to have to do every game as a team."
James scored 16 points but made just 6-of-20 shots and committed
six turnovers. He missed all five of his shots in the fourth
quarter as the Cavaliers let the game slip away.
Cleveland had a 72-71 edge midway through the fourth quarter
before Los Angeles scored 10 of the next 12 points.
, who scored 13 points, buried a jumper to spark the
run and give Los Angeles the lead for good with six minutes
left. Derek Fisher
made two free throws and Cook buried a runner
before Cleveland's Kevin Ollie
made a pair from the line.
, who scored 12 points and tied a career-high with
12 rebounds, followed a miss by Horace Grant with a dunk and
sank a floater for an 81-74 cushion with 2:12 remaining.
Cleveland has no answer defensively and could not find its
offense, scoring just 14 points on 7-of-24 shooting in the
"We've been struggling to score in the fourth quarter," Cavaliers
center Zydrunas Ilgauskas
said. "We're just missing open shots.
Like today, we were really struggling down the stretch and when
they made a run we could not score at all."
Cook finished the scoring, making five consecutive free throws
in the final 50 seconds as Los Angeles won its second straight
game following a winless four-game road trip.
"We have a lot of tough players in here they're not going to
back down from anybody," Cook said. "We are just going to keep
on playing hard because that's all we can do."
Ilgauskas had 19 points and eight rebounds and Carlos Boozer
12 and 12 for the Cavaliers, who shot just 33 percent
(29-of-87) from the floor.
Cleveland was outrebounded, 58-54 despite having a size
advantage on Los Angeles, which scored 21 points off 18
"What disappointed me was our rebounding," Cavaliers coach Paul Silas
said. "That was the most disappointing because we are
bigger and stronger."
Bryant's injury occurred with six seconds left in the first
quarter, when he was fouled by Cleveland's Kedrick Brown on a
three-point attempt. He made all three free throws but returned to
the locker room after the buzzer sounded.
Bryant underwent X-rays, which were negative, and returned to
the court midway through the second. But he clearly was in pain
and left for good with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
"It was obvious that Kobe was hurt," Cook said. "But we still
had another half to play. I think that guys reacted well. We
came out and played great defense and pulled through."