Fri, Mar 04, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Kobe's problems still not over

BASKETBALLMinutes after settling the case of alleged sexual assault against him, Bryant struggled to score points against the Celtics, who sent the Lakers to their fourth consecutive loss

AP , BOSTON AND DENVER

The Boston Celtics' Marc Blount, right, collides with Kobe Bryant during the first quarter at the Fleet Center in Boston on Wednesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Kobe Bryant's problems have moved back to the basketball court. Just 30 minutes after settling a lawsuit filed by the woman who accused him of rape, Bryant scored 17 first-quarter points against Boston. But he was scoreless in the fourth quarter -- missing a 3-pointer just before the buzzer -- as the Celtics beat Los Angeles 104-101 to send the Lakers to their fourth consecutive loss.

A statement released on by Bryant's attorneys said only that the matter had been resolved "to the satisfaction of both parties."

"The parties and their attorneys have agreed that no further comments about the matter can or will be made," the statement said. A motion for dismissal stipulating that the case can never be refiled was filed simultaneously in Denver federal court.

Asked about the settlement after the game, Bryant asked, "Anybody with basketball questions, gentlemen?"

Pressed a few minutes later, he again declined to comment and Lakers spokeswoman Allison Bogli said, "Basketball questions only."

The agreement probably spells out financial penalties for revealing any details, said Steve Cron, a Los Angeles attorney familiar with celebrity cases.

"It's in both parties' interests to have this remain confidential," he said. "That's one of the incentives for them to settle: He didn't have to do a deposition, the lurid details wouldn't be posted on some Web site. She didn't have to face the rigors of having a deposition by his lawyers and she'll gain some privacy as well."

The lawsuit, filed three weeks before the criminal case against the NBA star collapsed last summer, sought unspecified damages for mental injuries, public scorn and humiliation the woman said she has suffered since their June 2003 encounter at the Vail-area hotel where she worked. The woman, now pregnant and married, has not commented publicly on the case.

In Wednesday's Lakers-Celtics game, Paul Pierce had 29 points and nine rebounds, Ricky Davis scored 29 points and Antoine Walker had 16 with 13 rebounds in his first game in Boston since being reacquired at the trading deadline. The rejuvenated Celtics have won three straight since then and six straight at home overall.

"This is the great thing about this team, that I love," Walker said. "I don't necessarily have to score 25 points for us to win."

Chucky Atkins had 29 points, scoring 14 in the final 5:26 to keep the Lakers in the game and Bryant finished with 26, making nine of 24 shots -- 0-for-6 in the fourth, when he complained of a sore right ankle.

"If it was bothering him a lot, I am sure he would have asked out. But he is a tough guy. He is not going to ask out in many situations," Lakers coach Frank Hamblen said.

Nets 99, 76ers 93

In Philadelphia, Vince Carter scored 26 of his 32 points in the second half, and Clifford Robinson added 18 points to lead New Jersey over Philadelphia.

Allen Iverson scored 37 points for Philadelphia, and Chris Webber had only 10 in his worst performance in three games for the 76ers. Philadelphia has lost three of four since acquiring Webber from Sacramento last week.

SuperSonics 103, Cavaliers 86

In Cleveland, Ray Allen scored 31 points, Vladimir Radmanovic hit five 3-pointers and Seattle spoiled Dan Gilbert's first game as the Cavaliers' owner.

Allen made three 3s and the surprising Sonics, one of the NBA's best outside shooting teams, went 10-of-17 from behind the arc to win their 40th game this season and improve to 5-1 -- 4-1 on the road -- since the All-Star break.

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