L.A. Lakers 93, Houston 85
LOS ANGELES, April 1 (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal
overpowered Yao Ming
helping the Los Angeles Lakers power their way to the top of the
NBA TV highlights from|
O'Neal outplayed Yao and the Lakers matched a season high with
their 10th straight win, 93-85 over the struggling Houston
, Karl Malone
and Gary Payton
also had big games for
the star-studded Lakers (52-23), who tied the Sacramento Kings
atop the Pacific Division and the conference.
"We are proud of ourselves and we're having a blast," Bryant
said. "I don't know what comes first, having a blast or
As usual, much of the focus was the matchup between O'Neal and
Yao, who had the edge in the first three meetings this season.
O'Neal made sure the final meeting went his way.
O'Neal totaled 18 points and eight rebounds. His signature play
was a powerful dunk over Yao with 7:48 remaining, giving the
Lakers a 74-69 lead.
"We have been doing well these past 10 games," O'Neal said. "We
want to get some momentum."
It was an entirely different night for Yao, who went scoreless
in the second half and finished with six points on 3-of-15
shooting. He averaged 26.7 points on 55 percent shooting in the
first three games vs. Los Angeles.
"He put a lot of pressure on me," Yao said of O'Neal. "He
didn't give me a lot of space to adjust my shot, so I think (his
defense) had a big effect. But in the latter part of the game,
he came off me and I just couldn't put the ball in the hole."
scored 26 points to lead the Rockets, who were
outrebounded 58-35 and lost for the sixth time in nine games.
"We normally outrebound our opponents. That just wasn't the
case," said Houston guard Steve Francis
, who had 17 points and
eight assists. "And once you get three fouls in the first
quarter, like Yao and I did, it takes a lot of your aggression
Mobley had the final five points in a 15-2 run that opened the
second half as the Rockets erased a seven-point deficit and took
a 55-49 lead.
But Bryant, who was limited to five points in the first half,
came to life. He capped a 15-4 run with a driving dunk, giving
the Lakers a 64-59 advantage.
Bryant scored 15 of his 26 points in the third quarter as Los
Angeles carried a 67-66 lead into the final period.
Bryant and O'Neal, who have won three NBA titles with the
Lakers, also had help from Malone and Payton. Malone collected
20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists while Payton had 12
points and 13 rebounds.
Malone and Payton helped Los Angeles overcome 38 percent
(29-of-77) shooting and 21 turnovers.
"They are a team that always causes us trouble," Malone said.
"It is not pretty, but it is about how you execute, and we came
back, tied them and then took the lead. Then we executed and
did things down the stretch that we needed to do."
Mobley's layup with 7:25 remaining pulled the Rockets within
74-71. But Malone scored on a runner across the lane and Payton
made a layup and two free throws, pushing the lead to nine with
added 13 points for Houston, which shot 41 percent
"Defensively, we've got to do three things -- defend, which was
OK; rebounding, totally outworked; and turnovers, just too
many," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy
said. "But we were right in
the game and we just didn't do enough to win."