LOS ANGELES, Mar. 5 (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers again lost Kobe Bryant but refused to lose consecutive home games.

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After Bryant went down in the first minute, Shaquille O'Neal scored 32 points to lead the Lakers to a 99-91 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.

The Lakers avoided back-to-back losses at the Staples Center for the first time since Feb. 14-16, 2003. Returning from a four-game road trip, Los Angeles lost to Sacramento in its last home contest Feb. 26.

"We just have to play with the guys that are out there," said O'Neal, who made 10-of-16 shots. "Sometimes this happens. Guys were looking for me and I just wanted to step up a little bit."

On the eve of his 32nd birthday, O'Neal collected eight rebounds and six assists. He also demonstrated marked improvement over his recent free-throw shooting woes, going 12-of-18 from the line.

Los Angeles coasted through the first half, playing defense only in spurts, but still led 56-47 at the intermission.

Seattle scrapped back and eventually tied it, 88-88, with 3:25 remaining. But Kareem Rush, who assumed most of Bryant's minutes, made a 3-pointer with 1:30 left to give the Lakers a 92-88 lead.

"I felt good about (Coach Phil Jackson trusting my shot)," Rush said. "He is starting to trust in me to knock down big shots and I feel good when I take them."

Bryant did not return after jamming his right shoulder fighting through a screen 54 seconds into the game. He was taken to the hospital for an MRI on the same shoulder he sprained in January, an injury that cost him six games.

"This means we have to sit back and calculate some things on Saturday, making adjustments as we go through," Jackson said. "Obviously, we are going to rely on medical opinions. I don't want to jump the gun, I don't want to sound pessimistic. I'm going to stay optimistic."

A team spokesman said that there would be no word on Bryant's condition until Saturday.

Bryant tried to manuever around a screen while defending Ray Allen and his arm was wedged between Allen and Seattle forward Reggie Evans.

"This is what this season has been about," Los Angeles forward Rick Fox said. "I hope for our sake and all the Lakers fans out there that Kobe is okay and there's not any bad news."

Gary Payton scored 16 points against his former team and moved past Bernard King into 30th place on the all-time NBA scoring list with 19,656 points.

"Shaq did his thing the way it is supposed to be," Payton said. "We just kept giving it to him because he was playing very well.

"Kobe is a tough guy so I know he will be back."

Ron Murray scored 28 points and Ray Allen added 19 for Seattle, which has three straight and six of seven.

"We had it, we had the game," Murray said. "Not finishing close games, making mistakes toward the end, turning the ball over it has been a problem. The last three games that we lost on this whole trip, it's been the same result every time."