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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- LA LAKERS 28 24 22 25 99 HOUSTON 26 21 27 20 94 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: LAL - KOBE BRYANT 45, SHAQUILLE ONEAL 25, RICK FOX 14 HOU - MAURICE TAYLOR 19, HAKEEM OLAJUWON 16, STEVE FRANCIS 14

HIGH REBOUND: LAL - SHAQUILLE ONEAL 12, TWO PLAYERS WITH 4 HOU - MAURICE TAYLOR 10, STEVE FRANCIS 8

HIGH ASSISTS: LAL - BRIAN SHAW 7, SHAQUILLE ONEAL 6 HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 5, SHANDON ANDERSON 4

ATT: 16,285


Extended Box

LA LAKERS (99) AT HOUSTON (94)

LA LAKERS REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

FOX F 29 4-9 4-4 0 3 3 2 2 2 1 14 GRANT F 16 0-4 0-0 2 0 2 1 3 0 1 0 ONEAL C 43 9-17 7-22 5 7 12 6 4 1 2 25 BRYANT G 44 20-26 4-6 3 1 4 3 1 1 1 45 HARPER G 24 2-4 0-0 0 3 3 2 3 0 1 4 RIDER 23 3-8 2-2 0 4 4 0 1 1 3 8 HORRY 25 1-3 1-2 1 1 2 0 2 1 1 3 SHAW 22 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 7 1 0 3 0 PENBERTHY 8 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 MADSEN 3 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 FOSTER 3 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 MEDVEDENKO DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 39-71 18-36 11 24 35 21 18 6 13 99 (.549) (.500) TEAM REBS: 12 TOTAL TO: 14(16 PTS)

HOUSTON REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

TAYLOR F 39 9-14 1-2 2 8 10 3 5 0 2 19 WILLIAMS F 31 5-8 1-3 1 4 5 1 2 0 2 13 OLAJUWON C 31 6-11 4-4 3 4 7 0 5 0 1 16 ANDERSON G 31 3-8 2-2 1 2 3 4 3 1 0 9 FRANCIS G 36 4-12 5-5 3 5 8 5 4 5 4 14 CATO 11 0-0 0-2 2 2 4 0 2 2 1 0 MOBLEY 29 5-13 0-2 1 1 2 2 3 1 2 11 NORRIS 23 5-9 2-2 1 2 3 3 2 0 2 12 BULLARD 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 THOMAS 7 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 LANGHI DNP - COACH'S DECISION MILLER DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 37-77 15-22 14 28 42 18 28 9 15 94 (.481) (.682) TEAM REBS: 8 TOTAL TO: 18(19 PTS)

LA LAKERS 28 24 22 25 - 99 HOUSTON 26 21 27 20 - 94

BLOCKED SHOTS: LA LAKERS - HORRY 2, ONEAL. HOUSTON - TAYLOR, MOBLEY, OLAJUWON, THOMAS. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: LA LAKERS 3-7 (.429), FOX 2-3, BRYANT 1-1, RIDER 0-2, HORRY 0-1. HOUSTON 5-7 (.714), WILLIAMS 2-2, ANDERSON 1-1, FRANCIS 1-2, MOBLEY 1-2. TECHNICALS: LA LAKERS - ILLEGAL DEFENSE 2. OFFICIALS: JACK NIES, SCOTT WALL, MARK WUNDERLICH. A - 16,285. T - 2:21.


Box Score

LA LAKERS (99) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Fox 29 4-9 4-4 0-3 2 2 14 Grant 16 0-4 0-0 2-2 1 3 0 Oneal 43 9-17 7-22 5-12 6 4 25 Bryant 44 20-26 4-6 3-4 3 1 45 Harper 24 2-4 0-0 0-3 2 3 4 Rider 23 3-8 2-2 0-4 0 1 8 Horry 25 1-3 1-2 1-2 0 2 3 Shaw 22 0-0 0-0 0-2 7 1 0 Penberthy 8 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Madsen 3 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 1 0 Foster 3 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 0 0 Medvedenko DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 39-71 18-36 11-35 21 18 99 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.549, FT-.500. 3-Point Goals: 3-7, .429 (Fox 2-3, Bryant 1-1, Rider 0-2, Horry 0-1). Team rebounds: 12. Blocked shots: 3 (Horry 2, Oneal). Turnovers: 14 (Rider 3, Shaw 3, Oneal 2, Bryant, Fox, Grant, Harper, Horry). Steals: 6 (Fox 2, Bryant, Horry, Oneal, Rider).

HOUSTON (94) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Taylor 39 9-14 1-2 2-10 3 5 19 Williams 31 5-8 1-3 1-5 1 2 13 Olajuwon 31 6-11 4-4 3-7 0 5 16 Anderson 31 3-8 2-2 1-3 4 3 9 Francis 36 4-12 5-5 3-8 5 4 14 Cato 11 0-0 0-2 2-4 0 2 0 Mobley 29 5-13 0-2 1-2 2 3 11 Norris 23 5-9 2-2 1-3 3 2 12 Bullard 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Thomas 7 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 Langhi DNP - coach's decision Miller DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 37-77 15-22 14-42 18 28 94 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.481, FT-.682. 3-Point Goals: 5-7, .714 (Williams 2-2, Anderson 1-1, Francis 1-2, Mobley 1-2). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 4 (Taylor, Mobley, Olajuwon, Thomas). Turnovers: 18 (Francis 4, Mobley 2, Norris 2, Taylor 2, Williams 2, Cato, Olajuwon, Thomas). Steals: 9 (Francis 5, Cato 2, Anderson, Mobley). ____________________________________________ La Lakers 28 24 22 25 - 99 Houston 26 21 27 20 - 94 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: La Lakers 2 (Illegal Defense 2, 4:00 2nd, 7:18 4th). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 16,285. T: 2:21. Officials: Jack Nies, Scott Wall, Mark Wunderlich.


Game Story

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant had a near flawless performance and the Los Angeles Lakers could not have afforded anything less from the superstar guard in a hard-fought 99-94 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Clearly the Lakers' go-to guy despite the presence of reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant poured in 45 points on 20-of-26 shooting and made every big play down the stretch as the Lakers pulled out their fourth straight win.

Bryant has led Los Angeles in scoring in 14 of the last 17 games and gave every indication that he would so again tonight, burying his first 10 attempts and 12-of-14 before shooting at a more human pace thereafter.

"In our offensive system, he's the lead guard," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "That makes him the starting point of our offense. His game is as good as anyone in the league right now."

"Kobe had a phenomenal game," O'Neal said. "He made all kinds of shots tonight. We're going to get the bulk of the shots. Offense isn't a problem."

Despite tweaking his knee in the third quarter, Bryant had more than enough to pull the Lakers through in crunch time. After O'Neal snapped a 90-90 tie by making 2-of-4 free throws, Bryant took over.

He hit a 12-footer, a 21-footer and threw down a thunderous dunk that capped the scoring and kept Los Angeles perfect with one game left on its five-game road trip. The Lakers visit Dallas on Friday.

"It probably was (my most efficient game)," Bryant said. "I think this is the highest percentage I've shot since being in the league. I felt good and in rhythm tonight. I want to play in the scheme of the offense. Tonight, we were able to play our tempo and our offense."

O'Neal had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Los Angeles (19-9), which pulled into a virtual first-place tie with idle Sacramento in the Pacific Division.

Maurice Taylor had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, which has lost three in a row.

"Toward the end, we didn't get the shots we wanted," Taylor said. "At the end, our indecisive play and turnovers really hurt us. And Kobe really hurt us."

Bryant was knocking down shots with a dizzying consistency in the early going. Back-to-back 21-footers got Bryant warmed up in the first two minutes and a layup, 13-footer and 3-pointer helped Los Angeles to a 17-12 lead midway through the opening period.

"It's kind of tough to beat a team when the star player is 20-of-26," Houston point guard Steve Francis said. "He shot the ball excellently. He got a lot of calls but he had a great game. My hat goes off to him, to only miss six shots."

Bryant connected from 18 feet, dunked and made 3-of-4 free throws to give the Lakers a 28-26 lead entering the second quarter. He dunked, made a 20-footer and added another basket as Los Angeles opened a 44-35 cushion with 6:21 left in the first half.

"I felt more fresh tonight after the day off," Bryant said. "I slept all day yesterday. I only had one meal because I slept so much. But I was trying to relax and I think it paid off tonight."

The 6-7, 215-pounder finally misfired on a five-footer 5:50 before intermission but came right back with a 13-footer as the Lakers entered the half with a 52-47 lead.

"Kobe was unconscious tonight," Houston forward Walt Williams said. "He hit a lot of tough shots. If a guy that shoots as much as he does can have that percentage, it's tough to win."

"Kobe Bryant was just too much," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich admitted. "He was amazing."

Rick Fox scored 14 points for Los Angeles, which shot 55 percent (39-of-71) and scored 19 points off turnovers. Without Bryant, the Lakers were 19-of-45 from the field, managing one less basket than the All-Star.

Los Angeles went a pitiful 18-of-36 from the line with O'Neal again serving as the primary offender. He was 9-of-17 from the stripe but did hit some big free throws in the fourth quarter.

"I don't know if fouling Shaquille was a good strategy or not," Jackson said. "After they started fouling him intentionally, he made 3-of-6 shots and that's when we got control of the game. So I don't know if it backfired on them or not."

Bryant continued doing damage after halftime and converted a dazzling three-point play between a pair of defenders midway through the fourth quarter to give Los Angeles an 85-81 lead.

"I think the play that typified his game was when he was the only guy on a break and we had two guys back and he still made the shot and got fouled," Tomjanovich said of the acrobatic layup.

Hakeem Olajuwon scored 16 points and Williams added 13 for the Rockets, who shot 48 percent (37-of-77) and held a 42-35 advantage on the boards.

Los Angeles has won two of three meetings with Houston this season. The teams will meet for their fourth and final regular-season encounter on January 19 at the Staples Center.

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