Tue, Dec 30, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Lakers end 2003 on a high with win over sorry Celtics


The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings will begin the new year with the NBA's best records after finishing 2003 with victories.

Shaquille O'Neal had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and six of his teammates scored in double figures on Sunday night in the Lakers' 105-82 victory over the Boston Celtics.

The Lakers (21-7) snapped a two-game losing streak in winning for only the third time in seven games following a 10-game winning streak.

Sacramento (20-7) also snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating Utah 98-89. Peja Stojakovic scored 20 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, finishing 10-of-22 from the field and 13-of-14 on free throws.

The Lakers won't play again until Friday against Seattle, while the Kings are off until a Saturday matchup with the Clippers.

Both teams were happy to go into those long stretches of downtime with victories.

"You have poor stretches during the season, its natural," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We lose to Dallas, lose to Golden State and struggle against Utah. But you have to fight through games like these."

Derek Fisher scored 15 points, Devean George added 14, Gary Payton had 13, and Kobe Bryant scored 11 while shooting 5-of-18 for the Lakers, who outrebounded the Celtics 55-35.

O'Neal scored the first seven points of the third quarter to give Los Angeles a 64-49 lead. The Celtics drew within eight points before the Lakers outscored them 9-2 to finish the period, making it 79-64.

Fisher then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to give the Lakers a 20-point lead, and another 3-pointer by Fisher with six minutes left made it 93-69.

"The Lakers beat the living hell out of us, so if they were in a slump, they seem to be out of it," Boston coach Jim O'Brien said.

Following a 10-game winning streak, the Lakers allowed their pervious six opponents to average 104.7 points. But they held the Celtics to 82, only 33 in the second half.

Kings 98, Jazz 89

At Sacramento, Stojakovic made three 3-pointers and a three-point play during a productive four-minute stretch to help the Kings pull away.

"Peja is one of the best shooters, if not the best shooter in the league," teammate Vlade Divac said. "He understands he is the main guy on this team, especially when we are down."

Mike Bibby scored 23 points for Sacramento, which has defeated the Jazz five straight times.

Cavaliers 86, Trail Blazers 74

At Cleveland, LeBron James scored 32 points, including 12 in a 14-2 game-closing spurt.

James scored six straight points to put Cleveland ahead 78-72 with 5:48 to play, then capped the run with the final six points -- the last two on a resounding reverse dunk with 34 seconds left after a steal near midcourt.

"When I heard the crowd after that dunk, I had to stop and say, `Is this really Gund Arena?"' James said.

Spurs 89, Bucks 74

At San Antonio, the Spurs won their 13th in a row by holding Milwaukee to its lowest point total of the season.

"The guys have been great making defense their primary focus all these games," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, "because we have games with too many turnovers and a lot of games where we don't shoot free throws."

In other NBA games: Raptors 94, Clippers 88; Suns 100, 76ers 92; Nuggets 103, Warriors 79

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