L.A. Lakers 107, New Orleans 88
LOS ANGELES, March 30 (Ticker) --
The Los Angeles Lakers are looking
less like a team with two of the league's most dominant players
and more like a balanced offensive juggernaut.
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scored 23 points to lead six players in double
figures as the Lakers extended their winning streak to nine
games with a 107-88 rout of the New Orleans Hornets.
Los Angeles is led by the nearly unstoppable duo of Bryant and
center Shaquille O'Neal
. Now that it is back at full strength,
every player on the floor is looking like an All-Star.
The Lakers steamrolled the shorthanded Hornets, shooting 52
percent (42-of-81) from the floor, including 59 percent in the
first three quarters. They recorded 30 assists on 42 baskets
led by Karl Malone
, who had nine, and Bryant and Gary Payton
, who had six apiece.
"We were able to get a flow, get our rhythm down and did an
excellent job moving," Bryant said.
Payton also scored 20 points and O'Neal collected 15 and nine
rebounds. Malone had 11 points and Devean George
each added 10 as Los Angeles (51-23) moved within 1½ games of Sacramento for the best record in the Western
"We are looking pretty good and if we can keep this up going
into the playoffs, we are going to be fine," O'Neal said. "Right
now, I'm proud of the guys. We are playing very spirited
New Orleans jumped out to a 20-8 lead behind a hot start by
, who scored nine points in the first four
Los Angeles dominated thereafter, closing within 31-29 at the
end of the first quarter as Malone collected four points and
four assists in the final six minutes of the period.
George and Payton each scored 10 points in the second quarter,
when the Lakers shot 14-of-23 from the floor and took a 60-53
halftime lead. They led by as many as 20 in the third, holding
the Hornets to 14 points on 3-of-20 shooting.
"We just came out not the same way we came out in the first
half, just a totally different team," Hornets forward P.J. Brown
said. "Once everything started going bad for us in the third,
we couldn't catch up."
Armstrong finished with 13 points and All-Star Jamaal Magloire
had 12 and 14 rebounds as the Hornets played without injured
stars Baron Davis
and Jamal Mashburn
"You need your stars to carry you through," New Orleans coach
said. "It's going to be a tough stretch here for us,
but we're going to see if we can regroup and go fight again."
The Hornets (37-37) have lost eight of their last 12 games to
fall into a tie with Milwaukee for fourth place in the Eastern
New Orleans shot just over 39 percent (29-of-74) from the floor,
including 2-of-15 from 3-point range, and had 15 assists -- half
as many as Los Angeles.