Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 2/29

Game 1: Sunday, February 29th
Game 2: Sunday, March 7th

Nets 88

(38-24, 17-15 away)

Lakers 94

(41-21, 24-5 home)

12:30 PM ET, March 7, 2004

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

1 2 3 4 T
NJ 24 24 22 1888
LAL 23 23 25 2394

Top Performers

NJ: K. Martin 17 Pts, 20 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

LAL: S. O'Neal 32 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast

Shaq hits 10 of 14 FTs, scores 32

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- As Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone cheered from the bench, Shaquille O'Neal and Gary Payton demonstrated how two superstars -- instead of four -- can sometimes suffice.

O'Neal went 10-of-14 from the foul line and scored 32 points, and Payton added 18 points Sunday to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 94-88 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

The game was the Lakers' first since Bryant went out with a shoulder sprain Friday night. Malone, meanwhile, is close to rejoining the lineup after being out since Dec. 21 with a knee injury.

The Nets weren't at full strength, either, as Jason Kidd missed his fourth game with a bruised left knee.

Doctors said Bryant could miss up to a month, but the Lakers' guard hopes he isn't out that long. He was sidelined for 13 days and missed six games in January with the same injury.

"The first one was different. The first one, I had trouble raising my arm up, because it would just go dead," Bryant said. "This time, I can raise my arm up. It just hurts a lot when I do it.

"We just have to wait and see. This is the type of injury that takes four weeks to heal, from what I'm told. But let's see how it goes. It won't be fully healed until the summertime, but I'll be able to adjust to whatever the team needs me to do when I get back."

O'Neal, who turned 32 on Saturday, also scored 32 points in a 99-91 win over Seattle on Friday night. Bryant hurt his shoulder in a collision with the SuperSonics' Reggie Evans in the first minute of that game.

O'Neal liked the way the Lakers moved the ball against the Nets.

"That should be the game plan for every game," the Lakers' center said. "Guys were looking for me. The Nets were playing the front and back defense at times, and our guys read the defense very well."

The loss was the Nets' second in the four games Kidd has been sidelined. He is listed as day-to-day.

"Hopefully, the knee will be ready to go, and I can come back and play Wednesday," Kidd said. "That'll be 10 days of rest and working out.

"It felt good working out this morning. I was excited about trying to play here, but unfortunately it just didn't work out."

The Nets are at home Wednesday against Denver.

The Lakers took control in the fourth quarter of what had been a tight game. O'Neal's three-point play capped an 8-2 spurt that increased the Lakers' lead to 90-79 with 2:44 remaining.

The Nets went 5:36 without a field goal until Rodney Rogers' layup with 2:31 left and shot 6-for-24 in the fourth quarter.

Richard Jefferson scored 21 points for New Jersey, but only five after halftime. Kerry Kittles scored 19 and Kenyon Martin 17.

Early in the second half, the crowd gasped when O'Neal went charging in for a rebound of Payton' missed layup and couldn't stop, diving over the first row of seats and into the aisle.

O'Neal lay there motionless for a moment, then got up grinning as the crowd roared.

The Nets outscored the Lakers 7-1 to begin the third quarter, building a 55-46 lead after neither team led by more than three in the first half.

Los Angeles came back to pull even at 65 on Payton's driving finger roll with 2:10 left in the third period, and Los Angeles led 71-70 going into the fourth.

The first half featured 13 ties and 14 lead changes, and the Nets were up 48-46 at halftime.

Game notes

The Nets still have won 10 of 14. They were 11-2 in Lawrence Frank's first month as their coach. ... During a second halftime timeout, Bryant stood with his teammates and bounced a ball -- with his left hand. ... Asked about "protecting" Bryant's shoulder when he does return, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he may consider using some zone defense. ... The Lakers are 12-3 in their last 15.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 88 94
FGM-FGA 36-88 (.409) 36-81 (.444)
3PM-3PA 4-15 (.267) 5-14 (.357)
FTM-FTA 12-18 (.667) 17-28 (.607)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-50 11-45
Assists 26 21
Turnovers 12 11
Steals 8 8
Blocks 1 4
Fast Break Points 7 4
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (1/0) 17 (0/0)

Top Performers

New Jersey
Los Angeles
Kenyon Martin Martin
Points: 17
Reb: 20
Ast: 7
Stl: 2
Blk: 1
Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 32
Reb: 9
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 0