L.A. Lakers 84, Toronto 83
TORONTO, Feb. 1 (Ticker) --
As the Los Angeles Lakers embark on their
longest road trip in more than a decade, Shaquille O'Neal
appears to be getting close to full strength.
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O'Neal fought through fouls to score 36 points as the Lakers
kicked off a seven-game trek -- their longest since 1991-92 --
with an 84-83 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Playing without injured stars Kobe Bryant
and Karl Malone
Lakers nearly squandered a 16-point lead but benefited from a non-call in the final seconds.
Toronto's Vince Carter
drove the lane between Gary Payton
. Carter lost the ball, O'Neal grabbed the rebound and fed a long pass to
Payton, who ran out the final two seconds rather than attempt a
"I'm not going to talk about the officials," Toronto coach Kevin O'Neill
said. "I'm really not. It was a tough game to
officiate.You have two guys, Vince and Shaq, that both think
they should be fouled every time."
Carter had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors (21-24),
who dropped to 1-7 all-time at home against the Lakers and fell
three games under .500 for the first time this season. Carter's
3-pointer made it 84-83 with 48 seconds left.
"We hung in there through all the (expletive) and were able to
get a win," O'Neal said. "The guys are looking for me more and
if they look for me like that, I will continue to put up the
Los Angeles played its second straight game without Bryant, who
is on the injured list with a cut on his right index finger.
Malone is expected to be out until mid-March with a sprained
But O'Neal dominated the first half despite playing just 18
minutes. He made nine of his first 11 shots and finished
13-of-20 from the field.
"He's close to 100 percent," Lakers coach Phil Jackson
The game was tied, 23-23, after the first quarter, before the
Lakers outscored the Raptors in the second period, 31-15,
shooting 72 percent (13-of-18).
"Everyone has to help out down low against Shaq," Carter said.
"He does a great job of passing the ball out, so you have to
hope that those guys miss shots."
Toronto did a better job on O'Neal in the second half and crept
back in the game, but the Lakers never relinquished the lead.