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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- HOUSTON 19 19 20 21 79 LA LAKERS 18 28 25 24 95 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 20, WALT WILLIAMS 19, KEVIN WILLIS 10 LAL - SHAQUILLE O'NEAL 36, ROBERT HORRY 14, DEVEAN GEORGE 13

HIGH REBOUND: HOU - KEVIN WILLIS 7, KENNY THOMAS 7, FOUR PLAYERS WITH 4 LAL - SHAQUILLE O'NEAL 14, ROBERT HORRY 8, MARK MADSEN 8

HIGH ASSISTS: HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 4, MOOCHIE NORRIS 3, TWO PLAYERS WITH 2 LAL - SHAQUILLE O'NEAL 7, RICK FOX 4, THREE PLAYERS WITH 2

ATT: 18,997


Extended Box

HOUSTON (79) AT LA LAKERS (95)

HOUSTON

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

E GRIFFIN F 21 0-8 0-0 0 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 K THOMAS F 35 3-6 3-6 4 3 7 1 2 3 0 9 K CATO C 15 0-2 0-0 0 3 3 0 4 1 1 0 C MOBLEY G 40 2-12 5-5 0 4 4 2 2 1 1 9 S FRANCIS G 40 7-20 3-4 2 2 4 4 3 1 6 20 K WILLIS 23 2-6 6-6 0 7 7 0 4 0 1 10 W WILLIAMS 21 6-8 3-3 1 1 2 1 1 0 2 19 M NORRIS 24 0-5 2-2 1 3 4 3 0 0 3 2 J COLLIER 9 2-4 0-0 2 2 4 0 1 0 0 4 D LANGHI 4 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 2 T BROWN 4 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 T MORRIS 4 2-2 0-0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 4

TOTALS 240 25-75 22-26 11 28 39 14 20 6 15 79 (.333) (.846) TEAM REBS: 6 TOTAL TO: 16 (19 PTS)

LA LAKERS

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

R FOX F 21 2-7 0-1 1 5 6 4 4 1 2 4 R HORRY F 32 6-9 1-2 3 5 8 2 3 2 1 14 S O'NEAL C 34 15-21 6-11 7 7 14 7 2 0 3 36 M RICHMOND G 22 4-9 0-0 0 5 5 2 2 0 1 8 L HUNTER G 29 1-8 0-0 1 3 4 0 1 3 1 2 D FISHER 26 5-8 0-0 1 3 4 2 2 1 1 11 B SHAW 22 0-4 0-0 0 1 1 1 1 1 2 0 J MCCOY 2 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 D GEORGE 27 5-14 1-2 2 3 5 1 2 0 3 13 S MEDVEDENKO 12 2-6 3-4 2 0 2 1 1 1 0 7 M MADSEN 13 0-5 0-0 6 2 8 1 2 0 0 0 K BRYANT DNP - LEAGUE SUSPENSION.

TOTALS 240 40-91 11-20 23 35 58 21 21 9 14 95 (.440) (.550) TEAM REBS: 11 TOTAL TO: 14 (13 PTS)

HOUSTON 19 19 20 21 - 79 LA LAKERS 18 28 25 24 - 95

BLOCKED SHOTS: HOUSTON - NONE, LA LAKERS - S O'NEAL 2, R HORRY, M MADSEN.

3-PT. FIELD GOALS: HOUSTON 7-20 (.350), E GRIFFIN 0-3, C MOBLEY 0- 2, S FRANCIS 3-9, W WILLIAMS 4-5, M NORRIS 0-1. LA LAKERS 4-16 (.250), R FOX 0-2, R HORRY 1-2, M RICHMOND 0-1, L HUNTER 0-1, D FISHER 1- 3, B SHAW 0-3, D GEORGE 2-4. TECHNICAL FOULS: LA LAKERS - TEAM. FLAGRANT FOULS: NONE. OFFICIALS: JACK NIES, MONTY MCCUTCHEN. A - 18,997. T - 2:09.


Box Score

HOUSTON (79)

fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp E Griffin 21 0-8 0-0 0-2 1 1 0 K Thomas 35 3-6 3-6 4-7 1 2 9 K Cato 15 0-2 0-0 0-3 0 4 0 C Mobley 40 2-12 5-5 0-4 2 2 9 S Francis 40 7-20 3-4 2-4 4 3 20 K Willis 23 2-6 6-6 0-7 0 4 10 W Williams 21 6-8 3-3 1-2 1 1 19 M Norris 24 0-5 2-2 1-4 3 0 2 J Collier 9 2-4 0-0 2-4 0 1 4 D Langhi 4 1-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 2 T Brown 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 2 1 0 T Morris 4 2-2 0-0 1-1 0 1 4

_____________________________________________________ TOTALS 240 25-75 22-26 11-39 14 20 79 _____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.333, FT-.846. 3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (E Griffin 0-3, C Mobley 0-2, S Francis 3-9, W Williams 4-5, M Norris 0-1). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers:15 (S Francis 6, M Norris 3, W Williams 2, K Willis, D Langhi, K Cato, C Mobley). Steals: 6 (K Thomas 3, K Cato, C Mobley, S Francis).

LA LAKERS (95)

fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp R Fox 21 2-7 0-1 1-6 4 4 4 R Horry 32 6-9 1-2 3-8 2 3 14 S O'Neal 34 15-21 6-11 7-14 7 2 36 M Richmond 22 4-9 0-0 0-5 2 2 8 L Hunter 29 1-8 0-0 1-4 0 1 2 D Fisher 26 5-8 0-0 1-4 2 2 11 B Shaw 22 0-4 0-0 0-1 1 1 0 J McCoy 2 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 1 0 D George 27 5-14 1-2 2-5 1 2 13 S Medvedenko 12 2-6 3-4 2-2 1 1 7 M Madsen 13 0-5 0-0 6-8 1 2 0 K Bryant DNP - LEAGUE SUSPENSION.

_____________________________________________________ TOTALS 240 40-91 11-20 23-58 21 21 95 _____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.440, FT-.550. 3-Point Goals: 4-16, .250 (R Fox 0-2, R Horry 1-2, M Richmond 0-1, L Hunter 0-1, D Fisher 1-3, B Shaw 0-3, D George 2-4). Team Rebounds: 11. Blocked Shots:4 (S O'Neal 2, R Horry, M Madsen). Turnovers:14 (S O'Neal 3, D George 3, R Fox 2, B Shaw 2, M Richmond, L Hunter, R Horry, D Fisher). Steals: 9 (L Hunter 3, R Horry 2, R Fox, D Fisher, B Shaw, S Medvedenko).

------------------------------------------- HOUSTON 19 19 20 21 - 79 LA LAKERS 18 28 25 24 - 95 -------------------------------------------

Technical fouls: La Lakers - (Team, 2:01 1st). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 18,997. T: 2:09. Officials: Jack Nies, Monty Mccutchen.


Game Story

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal returned the favor to Kobe Bryant.

O'Neal more than made up for the absence of Bryant with 36 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a 95-79 victory against the overmatched Houston Rockets.

Bryant, an All-Star guard who teams with superstar center O'Neal to give the Lakers the best 1-2 punch in the game, was serving the first of a two-game suspension for fighting with Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller on Friday night.

With Bryant out, the Lakers went to O'Neal even more than usual and he responded. He made 15-of-21 shots, working over Kelvin Cato and Kevin Willis, and notched his 18,000 career point.

"(My play) was no different. I just played hard and tried to come out tonight and get the win for the team, but nothing different," he said.

O'Neal also helped the Lakers enjoy a huge advantage on the glass. Los Angeles held a 58-39 edge and had 23 offensive boards, including seven by O'Neal.

"Second shots was what really got us the opportunities to score and control the tempo of the game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "That's really big in this game because (Houston) has the speed and open-court ability."

Earlier this season, O'Neal was sidelined by an arthritic toe, which forced Bryant to carry the offense. He did an outstanding job, scoring 56 points in a game against Memphis.

O'Neal showed his support of Bryant by wearing his teammate's jersey in warmups.

"It was motivation for the team and sympathy for Kobe not being here," Jackson said. "I was surprised, but not totally surprised that something like that would happen with Shaq. But I think it was a message that he was trying to send to the rest of the team."

"That's my guy," the All-Star center said. "I knew (the reporters) were going to ask me questions about it, and I know they're going to show it on every channel, and that's why I did it ... to keep him alive. I know he's going to come back with a vengeance. It's going to put us right back on track. Everything happens for a reason."

O'Neal, who was suspended three games earlier in the season for fighting, felt Bryant was justified.

"A man has to do what a man has to do," he said. "And if the powers that be control the powers below, to control the game, then none of this would happen. The guy just wouldn't start fighting just to be fighting. If you let (stuff) go off for eight or nine minutes, it's going to add up."

Robert Horry added 14 points and eight rebounds and reserve Devean George contributed 13 points as the Lakers won for the fifth time in their last seven games. They moved one game behind the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles swept the four-game season series from Houston, turning the trick for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign.

Mitch Richmond started in place of Bryant and collected eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes.

"I think it wasn't going to be one guy to take over what we're missing without Kobe," Richmond said. "We really had to rely on Shaq and everyone else had to pick up the slack in any possible way. I think that happened tonight."

Steve Francis led Houston with 20 points while Walt Williams had 19 in his second game back from the injured list. He was activated on Saturday after missing 18 games with a right ankle strain.

"We didn't execute our game plan at all," Williams said. "Offensively we didn't move the ball around and we took a lot of bad shots out there.

Playing against the world champions, you have to execute and we didn't do that today."

Francis didn't see O'Neal as the difference.

"Shaq's a great player, don't get me wrong, the Lakers are a pretty good team," Francis said. "But someone who really follows our team knows when we're playing good and tonight was a prime example of us not coming to play."

Los Angeles opened the second quarter with a 17-9 run to take control of the game and used a 13-4 spurt at the start of the third period to widen the advantage to 59-42 on a driving layup by Fox with 7:28 left.

The Rockets never got within single digits thereafter.

Derek Fisher had 11 points and Stanislav Medvedenko tallied seven for Los Angeles, which shot 44 percent (40-of-91) from the field. The Lakers made just 4-of-16 shots from 3-point range but dominated the interior, outscoring Houston in the paint, 56-26.

Willis chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds and Kenny Thomas had nine and seven for the Rockets, who shot 33 percent (25-of-75) and yielded 19 points on 16 turnovers.

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